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Iraq Welcomes US Pullout Decision but Fear Iran Might Fill Vacuum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- While most Iraqi parliamentary blocs welcomed US President Barack Obama’s statements about withdrawal from Iraq and said this shows that the US administration is serious about implementing the security agreement, ending the military presence in Iraq, and letting it govern itself, some blocs expressed their fears that the vacuum which the US forces will leave behind in Iraq might revive Iran’s ambitions in Iraq and interference in its internal affairs by exploiting its influence there. This is in addition to internal problems which they said the US administration needs to resolve before the pullout from Iraq, especially the oil issue and sharing it; Kirkuk; and other problems.

But Iraqi deputies warned against an early US withdrawal. Deputy Osama al-Nujayfi from the Iraqi List said the US forces’ withdrawal would create a vacuum and told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The US forces will leave a vacuum in Iraq if they withdraw and this vacuum will be filled by the Iraqis if they can achieve national reconciliation and build the state of institutions and a professional army loyal to the homeland and capable of filling the Americans’ vacuum and achieving security. But if the Iraqis are unable to reach real reconciliation and deal with the pending issues in the constitution, the displaced, Kirkuk, and the sectarian and racial groupings, then I believe that it will be Iran which will fill the vacuum and Iraq will become easy prey for international ambitions and violations.”

On his part, Walid al-Sharakah from the Kurdistan Alliance said his bloc and the other political entities support the US forces’ departure but added that this should be done “after organizing the Iraqi house and getting rid of the sectarian feuds.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “everyone knows that Iraq has achieved 75 per cent security but this does not mean that we have finished or reached the target. There are potentials in the interior and defense ministries which need to be completed.” He warned: “There are problems between the central government and the [Kurdistan] Region and these problems should be resolved as a failure to do so will lead to many problems and Iraq might find itself in a dangerous position that no one has imagined.”

Qasim Dawud, deputy from the Unified Iraqi Coalition in parliament, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We have repeatedly called for linking the US pullout to the preparedness of the Iraqi forces. This is our basic stand on the withdrawal and we do not want a unilateral one but hope that the US administration’s withdrawal will be objective and on the basis of a timetable that takes into account the security conditions in Iraq.”