In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The untold story of US retreat from Iraq

Posted by seumasach on December 19, 2011

M.K.Bhadrakumar

Asia Times

The plot was believed to be as follows: Washington wanted to keep long-term US military presence in Iraq but the popular opinion in Iraq militated against it, which ultimately left the Barack Obama administration no choice but to comply with the Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA] and to withdraw all the troops by the stipulated deadline of December 2011.

The US of course has given the spin that the withdrawal has been of its own accord. And the Republicans have been berating Obama for not doing all he should have done to keep the US military bases in Iraq as the US’s regional strategy.
Now comes the plot within the plot. Even as there was vehement opposition amongst the Iraqi people to the US military bases, it seems there was also a 3-way conspiracy involving Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (who Gorge W. Bush had thought to be his man in Baghdad), Iraqi Islamist leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Tehran to hoodwink the Americans into believing that they were going to be in Iraq forever.
Tehran apparently cleared much cloud cover for Maliki by playing up a story that Maliki and al-Sadr were sworn enemies out to vanquish each other – although all three were secretly collaborating in the anti-US project.
Bush and Condoleeza Rice bought Maliki’s spin and walked into an Iraqi trap to sign the SOFA.Only to get the shock of their lives that Maliki was going to insist on the withdrawal deadline in the SOFA. No wonder Bush failed to show up at the ceremony last week, attended by Obama, observing the victorious “homecoming” of the US army from Iraq.
Can there be a repeat in Afghanistan? Washington will be very alert that there is no replay. In any case. for such a thing to repeat in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai and Mohammed Fahim should work out a deal with Pakistan and Iran to get rid of the US and NATO military presence, while pretending they were Obama’s best pals in town. Seems a difficult proposition. The Iraqis seem to be better nationalists than the Afghans.
The moral is of course that the jury is still out in Libya where the US and NATO may presently believe they have everything under control.
By the way, imagine the mixed feelings racing through Obama’s inner world as he received Maliki in the White House last week. Gareth Porter’s breathtaking account of how Maliki, al-Sadr and Iran conspired together and hoodwinked Bush and Rice makes great reading. It is here.

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