Violence in Iraq and Obama’s ‘Withdrawal Plan’

Disturbing news was reported today out of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq today. Iraqi police officers attacked a group of United States soldiers, killing one and injuring three.

This attack comes just two weeks after a deadly car bomb attack killed four American soldiers also in the city of Mosul.

Mosul is believed to be the last major city in Iraq where Sunni insurgents have managed to maintain a considerable amount of influence over the population. This Sunni influence is complicated both by tensions with Kurdish Iraqis in the region as well as the continuing occupation of the region by American forces.

President Obama has made it clear that he plans on a withdrawal of United States forces by August 2010. In his speech to Congress tonight, he said that he will be announcing exactly how he plans to move ahead with the withdrawal of troops in the near future.

In the light of the recent trend of violence in Iraq and the apparent infiltration of Sunni insurgents into Iraqi security, it remains to be seen how committed Obama is for a complete withdrawal, and what his comfort level will be in handing these problems over to a young and vulnerable Iraqi government.

In reality the “withdrawal” that Obama is leaning toward implementing could be more accurately termed a draw down in forces. The plans that Obama will soon officially announce would leave up to 50,000 American soldiers in Iraq. Planners are insisting that the remaining soldiers would not be engaged in combat, but would remain in Iraq to train Iraqi security forces and provide logistical support when necessary.

There has been no indication as to the timeline for how long the 50,000 troops would remain in Iraq. However, it does not take a particularly vivid imagination to foresee President Obama essentially declaring the withdrawal complete, only to have the 50,000 remain indefinitely. And as long as the 50,000 United States troops are in the theater they are left vulnerable to unforeseen events in that theater while the young Iraqi government attempts to become a respected institution.

And with the 50,000 troops in Iraq, as much as one soldier dying as a result of combat after the “completion” of the withdrawal could very well lead to a reconstitution of engagement in combat. It is time that President Obama is held accountable by the voters to whom he promised an end to the war in Iraq.

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