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As U.S troop vacate Iraq, what happens next?

The Iraqi invasion could be viewed as an activity that gulped a lot of resources as well as other sacrifices from all stakeholders involved. For…

The Iraqi invasion could be viewed as an activity that gulped a lot of resources as well as other sacrifices from all stakeholders involved.

For the U.S. military, it’s the million dollar question — or rather the $687 billion question, as stated according to a recent estimate of the Iraq war’s total cost.

However, one of the cardinal questions to pose is this; Is Iraq now stable enough for the U.S. to take a permanent back seat?

The short answer is no one knows. Anyway, they have started doing that on this week when they pulled out of Iraqi cities

And one thing the crystal ball gazers have learned about Iraq’s hugely complicated, many-sided conflict is that the past is rarely a reliable guide to the future.

When optimists thought Iraq was poised to enjoy democracy after the fall of Saddam, it spiraled into years of bloody insurgency and sectarian killing.

There might never be an acknowledged end to the Iraq war — a moment where it ceases being America’s conflict. U.S. commanders acknowledge that the months-long political impasse over the disputed March 7 elections and a flurry of other unresolved disputes in Iraq have the potential to erode hard-won security gains. An indication that there is an unfinished job and an unclear coast.

By the end of this month, the United States will have six brigades in Iraq, by far its smallest footprint since the 2003 invasion. Those that remain are conventional combat brigades reconfigured slightly and rebranded “advise and assist brigades.” The primary mission of those units and the roughly 4,500 U.S. special operations forces that will stay behind will be to train Iraqi troops. Under a bilateral agreement, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

An overview of U.S. mission reveal that more than 4,400 U.S. service members have died in the Iraq war since the invasion.

Several of these soldiers have served in Iraq more than one tour; some as many as four.

But it is also clear that the departing soldiers are not leaving behind a peaceful country. The brigade ended up driving out in waves — rather than having most soldiers flown out — because that allowed the military to keep its last combat force a few weeks longer as commanders assessed the risks of political instability.

Commanders spent weeks studying the perils of the 360-mile nighttime drive through the sweltering, dusty desert of southern Iraq. Powerful roadside bombs lined the two-lane road. And Shiite militias have stepped up attacks against U.S. bases in southern Iraq in recent weeks.

As a precaution, the military demanded that journalists accompanying the soldiers on the trip refrain from disclosing details of their departure until early Thursday, when the last group was scheduled to cross the Kuwaiti border. What a sign of danger and huge uncertainty to be termed a `successful’ mission.

A school of tought believe that the protracted political crisis in Baghdad was a source of angst. Many Iraqis fear that militants are exploiting the period of uncertainty to make a comeback.

Due to further signal of danger, soldiers of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, poured out of Iraq under cover of darkness early on August 19 — two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama’s August 31deadline — they left behind a country plagued in some ways by as much uncertainty as one can imagine.

However, there is reason to believe that the debate over Iraq can change. Because series of developments in the past year and a half offers hope that the desire of so many Americans to bring the troops home can be fulfilled at least.

As a snap summary of a highly symbolic moment — the departure of the last major batch of U.S. combat troops from Iraq more than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion — it at least had the merit of clarity. As a statement of fact, however, it concealed a multitude of unintended consequences, and doubts about the future.

As for democracy, Iraq has not had a functioning elected government for more than five months, following disagreements about the results of last March’s general election, leaving a political vacuum ripe for violent insurgent groups.

The country’s economy, too, remains unstable, while its social cohesion is badly fractured.

The U.S as well has a huge price that it paid in so many respects, according to Pentagon figures; the war in Iraq has cost the lives of at least 4,415 U.S. soldiers — so the exuberance of the departing U.S. forces was understandable. But whatever they are leaving behind, it is hardly peace and stability.

According to Paul Rogers, of the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University in England.

“It is so different from what was expected 7 1/2 years ago, when the expectation was that Iraq would rapidly move to a peaceful pro-Western country with a very effective and vibrant free-market economy,” Rogers says. “The result instead has been over 100,000 civilians killed and 4 million refugees and a very protracted war, which, at least for the moment, has left a high degree of instability.” The continued lack of a government just makes this worse, he adds.

But whatever it is, in reality, U.S. military input is almost certain to remain tangible, especially given the recent warning from Iraq’s top army officer, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, that his troops may not be ready for another decade and that the United States is pulling out too soon.

The United States is likely to stay closely involved in Iraq’s defense irrespective of its troops’ presence, says Hamid Fadhil, professor of political science at the University of Baghdad. He notes that U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the biggest in the world in terms of size and number of employees.

Following the departure of U.S. forces next year, responsibility for training Iraqi police to deal with insurgents is to be taken over by the State Department. The task will be carried out by contractors and is certain to result in a rapid increase in the presence of private security organizations. Already, according to “The New York Times,” the State Department is planning to double the number of private security guards to around 7,000 to protect civilians.


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