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Will the Americans Withdraw? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Someone once asked me: what would happen if the Democrats won next year’s US elections and the new President decided to withdraw troops from Iraq in December 2008? who ever the President is will most likely send them back again in December 2009, I replied.

As the popular Arabic proverb goes, entering the bathroom is completely unlike exiting it, and withdrawing from Iraq will not constitute a solution and can only complicate and destabilize matters further. Iraq is a country at the heart of the international conflict over oil resources, in addition to the conflict with Iran over political influence – add to that the fact that chaotic Iraq will become the seat of international terrorist operations, Shia and Sunni alike.

Predictions confirm that in the case where Americans withdraw without setting up a powerful central regime, it would fall a few weeks following the departure of the last soldier, and local, regional and international forces would fight within the country.

The statements made during the American elections are mere promises dictated by the public climate that rejects defeat and favors withdrawal – as it has done before in Afghanistan, Somalia and Lebanon. Supreme interests will command a different perspective from the next president, whether he comes from the other camp, the Democrats, or if the presidency were to remain in Republican hands.

Listening to the statements made today by the Democrats demanding immediate withdrawal from Iraq one notices that they do not say the same thing about withdrawal from Afghanistan – albeit the latter is less significant in the strategic conflict over energy resources and confronting terrorism.

Many believe that the most that can be accomplished by any incoming president would be withdrawal from Iraq’s major cities and the evasion of the clashing parties’ targets, as several Arab parties have advised so that the Iraqi authority may assume its responsibilities. The Arab, and the Iraqi parties, and the majority of the militant parties – even Iran – all fear an abrupt American withdrawal because it would mean an immediate collapse of the regime followed by absolute pandemonium. Presently, the battles between the warring Iraqi forces are ongoing with a large number of victims falling every day, but the scene will be even more harrowing if the current regime were to collapse.

Any incoming president will need to lay down a project for gradual withdrawal, also helping Iraqis set up a UN-protected comprehensive political regime. If the Americans were to withdraw from Iraqi cities, it would result in massive chaos because the Iraqi army and security forces are incapable of control, which is something that can only accomplish if the circumstances forced the Iraqi authorities into self-dependence after the American forces withdraw from the civil communities.

The bloody state in Iraq will prevail so long as no Iraqi solutions exists under which the different parties can converge under the ceiling of a new political system; a government and a parliament. Undoubtedly, the foreign factor has played a big part in ravaging Iraq internally by sending in death squads and terrorists, which is an issue that the Americans have failed to address seriously since they entered Baghdad, and this will remain to be the case unless the states responsible for such terrorist crimes feel that they too, rather than the Iraqis alone, will also pay the price.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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