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Showing posts with label World Wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Wars. Show all posts

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why Obama is ending the war in Iraq

Did President Obama want American military troops to remain in Iraq?

Why did President Barack Obama announce Friday that he has decided to end the American troop presence in Iraq by the end of the year?
The United States had been negotiating with Iraqi leaders for months on a possible continuing military presence in Iraq. But the negotiations stalled over a key hitch: Iraqi leaders refused to comply with Washington's insistence that any American forces serving in Iraq be granted legal immunity in that country.
"The end of war in Iraq reflects a larger transition," Obama said Friday, noting that the number of American troops deployed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has decreased from 180,000 when he took office to less than half that by the end of this year.  "The tide of war is receding."

On Jan. 1, the United States and Iraq will have a "normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect," Obama said.

Over the summer, however, the United States was asking to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq next year. "This was well below the 20-30,000 troops that military experts believed optimum," Ken Pollack, a member of Bill Clinton's National Security Council who wrote an influential book advocating war with Iraq, wrote in an analysis distributed by the Brookings Institution. "Just a few weeks ago, the Administration then unilaterally decided to cut that number down to about 3,000. There was nothing that 3,000 troops were usefully going to do in Iraq. No mission they could adequately perform from among the long list of critical tasks they have been undertaking until the present. At most, they would be a symbolic force, that might give Tehran some pause before trying to push around the Iraqi government." Pollack continued:
However, even playing that role would have been hard for so small a force since they would have had tremendous difficulty defending themselves from the mostly-Shi'ah (these days), Iranian-backed terrorists who continue to attack American troops and bases wherever they can.
At that point, it had become almost unimaginable that any Iraqi political leader would champion the cause of a residual American military presence in the face of popular resentment and ferocious Iranian opposition.  What Iraqi would publicly demand that Iraq accommodate the highly unpopular American demands for immunity for U.S. troops when Washington was going to leave behind a force incapable of doing anything to preserve Iraq's fragile and increasingly strained peace?  Why take the heat for a fig leaf?
Of course, the truth was that the Iraqi government itself had already become deeply ambivalent, if not downright hostile to a residual American military presence.  Although it was useful to the prime minister to have some American troops there as a signal to Iran that it shouldn't act too overbearing lest Baghdad ask Washington to beef up its presence, he and his cohorts probably believe that they can secure the same advantages from American arms sales and training missions.  The flip side to that was that the American military presence had become increasingly burdensome to the government--challenging its interpretation of events, preventing it from acting as it saw fit, hindering their consolidation of power, insisting that Iraqi officials adhered to rule of law, and acting unilaterally against criminals and terrorists the government would have preferred to overlook.  All of this had become deeply inconvenient for the government.
Though there have been reports for weeks that American-Iraqi negotiations were stuck on that and other disagreements, Pentagon officials had always discounted those reports as premature, saying negotiations were still continuing.

And it's worth noting that, in the details of the arrangement Obama announced Friday, the United States will maintain an Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, which will consist of hundreds, if not thousands of American defense personnel.

There were other signs of wiggle room in Obama's announcement. "As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces, again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world," Obama said Friday. "After all, there will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant."

Still, Obama's announcement Friday does not represent only a linguistic sleight of hand, for either country. Almost nine years after the American invasion to topple Saddam Hussein--and in the year since popular uprisings began to topple a succession of the Middle East's long-entrenched dictators and autocrats from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, not primarily at the hands of the American military but by the power of those countries' own people--the United States and Iraq will finally be able to have a "fresh start" to their post-war relationship, as Obama put it Friday.

"The United States is fulfilling our agreement with an Iraqi government that wants to shape its own future," John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said in a statement Friday. "We are creating a new partnership that shifts from a clear military focus to a new relationship that is more expansive, hinging on increased diplomatic, economic and cultural relations."

Quoted from YahooNews

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 11:50 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turkey sends 10,000 elite forces after Kurdish militants

Offensive on border of Iraq follows insurgents' deadliest one-day attacks against Turkish military since mid-1990s

Students protest against recent attacks
on Turkish military in Istanbul
ANKARA, Turkey — About 10,000 elite Turkish soldiers were taking part in a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey and across the border in Iraq on Thursday, making it the nation's largest attack on the insurgents in more than three years, the military said.

The offensive began Wednesday after Kurdish rebels carried out raids near the Turkey-Iraq border that killed 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded 18, the insurgents' deadliest one-day attacks against the military since the mid-1990s.

The military said in a statement Thursday that 22 battalions, or about 10,000 soldiers, were taking part in the offensive in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, but it did not say how many were in each country.

NTV television said most of the troops were believed to be in Iraq.

It was Turkey's largest such offensive since February 2008, when thousands of ground forces staged a weeklong offensive into Iraq on snow-covered mountains.

The military said the soldiers in the current operation are commandos, special forces and paramilitary special forces — making it an elite force trained in guerrilla warfare. They are being reinforced by F-16 and F-4 warplanes, Super Cobra helicopter gunships and surveillance drones.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to share details of the military's offensive. The military only said the offensive was concentrated in five separate areas it did not identify.

"Our goal is to achieve results with this operation," Erdogan told a nationally televised news conference. "The military is determinedly carrying out this (operation), both from the air and the ground."
The military said the offensive was launched because the rebels had staged Wednesday's deadly simultaneous attacks on eight separate targets, including military and police outposts.

Iraq expresses support 
In its first comment since those attacks and the start of Turkey's offensive, Iraq's government on Thursday condemned the rebel attacks and promised to stop them from using Iraqi territory for future attacks against Turkey.

"The Iraqi government stresses again that Iraq will not be a haven or a shelter to any foreign armed and terrorist group," the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website, adding that both Baghdad and the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq "are committed to secure the borders" to prevent the repetition of such attacks.

A senior Iraqi Kurdish official, Nechirvan Barzani, was in Ankara and expected to be received by Erdogan shortly.

The Kurdish rebel attack outraged many Turks and fueled nationalist sentiment. Thousands of high school students, carrying Turkish flags, marched in the streets of the Turkish capital on Thursday.

"Tooth for tooth, blood for blood, vengeance!" students chanted in support of the military as they marched through the affluent Tunali Hilmi district. At one point, the students stopped traffic to sing the national anthem as some shopkeepers joined them and passers-by stood still in respect.

The Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq are mostly stable and prosperous. But to Turkey, which has a large Kurdish minority, they also are an inspiration and a support base for the Kurdish rebels.

Turkey's Kurdish rebel conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since the insurgents took up arms for autonomy in the country's Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.

Quoted from MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 11:43 PM