Friday, September 9, 2011

Who Wants Those Troops to Stay in Iraq?

By Patrick Cockburn

"The United States is negotiating to keep several thousand troops in Iraq beyond the official withdrawal date at the end of the year, but its influence in the country is being eclipsed by Iran and Turkey...

Turkey’s influence is growing in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East because it is a Muslim state with a strong government, prospering economy, powerful army and large population. It is able to project growing authority among Arab states such as Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Tunisia and Libya, all of which have been weakened by wars, civil wars and rebellions. Iraq remains weak because of its sectarian and ethnic divisions. “There is no national identity any longer,” Ghassan al-Attiyah, an Iraqi political scientist and commentator, said. “Iraqis are either Sunni, Shia or Kurd.” Attiyah said Iran will ultimately tolerate a small US force remaining in Iraq, because the majority of US troops will have gone and those remaining are too few to be militarily effective. “Will the Iranians find 10,000 men too many?” Attiyah asked. “I doubt it.”...."

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