A renewed sense of nationalism is uniting protesters over delays to US troop withdrawal
guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 April 2011
"Stretched close to the limit by combat in Afghanistan and determined not to get into a ground war in Libya, the Pentagon is stepping up the pressure to maintain a huge US troop presence in today's largely peaceful Iraq. What might seem at first sight strange and unnecessary is in fact fully in line with the ambitions of those who planned the invasion eight years ago. Whether neocons or "realists", they always wanted to have a long-term political and military footprint in the northern sector of the Middle East, strategically placed between Syria and Iran.
As with so many elements of the geopolitical strategy he inherited from George Bush, Barack Obama has gone along with it. So it should be no surprise that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chief of staffs, was in Baghdad on Friday urging the government to amend the agreement under which all US forces have to leave Iraq by the end of this year. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, was in the Iraqi capital on a similar mission a few weeks earlier.
Both Sunni and Shia protesters were on the streets last week to denounce the US plans, united by a common sense of nationalism that has not been seen since the first year of the US occupation, before sectarian divisions were artificially inflamed...."