Blog Post

Trouble Looms in Wake of Troop Withdrawal

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist In spite of the President's triumphant speech about the formal end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq, made only days after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the 2009 stimulus package cost more than the entire Iraq war, now the Iraqis are saying the pullout is poorly timed and is leaving them with no government, and no security. "It's not the right time," Johaina Mohammed, a 40-year-old teacher from Baghdad, told the Associated Press (AP). "There is no government, the security is deteriorating, and there is no trust."   Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq to make an appeal to Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to end the political deadlock and seat a new government. There was no clear winner in the last election, which took place on March 7, and insurgents are capitalizing on the uncertainty to attack Iraqi security forces. An uptick in violence, such as the attack that killed 56 people last week, have left many Iraqis worried that without American soldiers, their country will revert to a dictatorship. "They should go, but the security situation is too fragile for the Americans to withdraw now," said Mohammed Hussein Abbas, a Shiite from the town of Hillah south of Baghdad. "They should wait for the government to be formed and then withdraw."   The decision to draw down to 50,000 troops was made by President Barack Obama, and is not part of the security agreement between Iraq and the U.S. which calls for the withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011. Another concern about the early withdrawal of troops is that the country could be taken over by its neighbors, such as the increasingly aggressive Iran who many believe is waiting to fill the power vacuum created by the departing troops. "The U.S. withdrawal will put Iraq into the lap of Iran," Ali Mussa, a 46-year-old engineer from eastern Baghdad, told the AP. Even though Iraqis have a much higher quality of life than during Saddam's reign of terror, with access to the internet, satellite television, cell phones and laptops, a constant shortage of electricity, water and jobs continues to plague their daily life. "The U.S withdrawal will worsen the situation," said Riyadh Hadi, 47. "Corruption is now clandestine, but after the American withdrawal it will be out in the open and widespread among Iraqi officials." The success of the pullout remains to be seen, and Americans are among the doubters, especially after the release of a CBO report showing that Obama's 2009 stimulus bill cost $100 billion more than the entire Iraq war. The CBO estimates the total war cost at $709 billion, while the stimulus cost $862 billion. In addition, they found that spending on the Iraqi war accounted for just 3.2 percent of all federal spending while the war lasted, which amounts to less than one quarter of what was spent on Medicare in the same time frame. Like many Americans, Iraqis also believe the president is playing domestic politics with the war instead of doing what is truly best for their country. "The Americans should think about the door they're walking out of," Sheik Ali Hatem Sulaiman al-Dulaimi, an influential tribal leader from Anbar province told the AP. "This is the destiny of a nation." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®