Iraq update Feb. 2011 – protests, doubts about U.S. withdrawal, status of government building

This post updates the LSW Iraqi page.

Protests against the Iraqi government
Gates expresses doubt about withdrawal by end of 2011
Status of Iraqi government formation

Protests against the government in Iraq*

Juan Cole starts his post, “Iraq Roiled by Protests, 2 Killed in Sulaimaniya”, with:

“What I can’t understand is, if the American Right Wing were correct that George W. Bush was ‘right’ in trying to kick start democracy in the Middle East by invading and occupying it, then why would it be necessary for people to demonstrate and burn government buildings in… Iraq? And why have 5 people been shot down for demonstrating in two days in Iraq, as many as in the repressive monarchy of Bahrain?”

. LSW would suggest that the answer would be that Bush and his posse were never interested in democracy.

Cole goes on to list the disturbances which took place in Iraq on Thursday Feb. 18, which include:

  • ” city of Kut in Shiite south Iraq (the capital of Wasit province), crowds threatened the provincial headquarters. This action came a day after they had burned down the provincial council building and saw 3 protesters killed by security forces.”

  • ” in the town of Nasar in Dhi Qar province, 490 km south of Baghdad, police chief Sabah al-Fatlawi said that a curfew had been implemented after government buildings were burned.”

  • “some 600 demonstrators in the southern port city of Basra in Iraq rallied in front of the provincial governor’s mansion, demanding his resignation over failure to provide basic services. They were pushed back by police.”

  • ” two persons had been killed and more than 30 wounded in Sulaimaniya when a crowd of some 3000 came out to demand that the Kurdistan Regional Government address problems of unemployment and undertake to improve the situation in the region. The demonstration was sponsored by “The Network for Safeguarding Rights and Liberties,” which was protesting the authoritarian rule of the two Establishment Kurdish parties that make up the Kurdistan Alliance. Iraqi political parties are patronage machines that leave non-members on the outside and sometimes destitute. They demanded a change in government and an end to corruption.”

Less than full withdrawal from Iraq of U.S. forces by new Year’sDay 2012?

Defense Secretary Gates, as referenced in Foreign Policy, casts doubt on the fulfillment of the agreement to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Answering a question posed by Duncan Hunter (R-Ca) during testimony to Congress, Gates said:

“”How can we maintain all of these gains that we’ve made through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don’t have any military there whatsoever,” Hunter asked. “We’d have more military in Western European countries at that point than we’d have in Iraq, one of the most central states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East?”

Gates responded that not only was it in the U.S. interest to keep more troops in country, but that the Iraqis need more American troops there as well.

“The truth of the matter is, the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they’re going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers,” Gates testified. “They will not be able to do the kind of job in intelligence fusion. They won’t be able to protect their own airspace. They will have problems with logistics and maintenance.””

LSW has viewed the Bush invasion of Iraq as fueled partly by the desire to place U.S. military forces in the Middle East. Given that the U.S. has established dozens of military bases in Iraq, LSW can not quite believe all U.S. military forces will leave Iraq at the end of 2011, no matter what was agreed upon in the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) signed by iraq and the U.S.

Status of government formation since March 2010 elections

In a short but rather exhaustive post, Reidar Vissar, at summarizes the status of the formation of the Iraqi government after the March 7, 2010 election and finds it incomplete.

After detailing the actions of inactions of the Iraqi parliament and government, Vissar concludes:

“As we are nearing the one-year anniversary of the 7 March 2010 elections, the Iraqi government-formation process remains incomplete. At the same time, since all the parties except the Kurdish Gorran are included in government, there is the obvious lacuna of a healthy opposition. Little wonder, in that context, that political violence and extremism continue to thrive on the margins of a clogged parliamentary system. “

LSW has not tried to convey the detailed information in Vissar’s post, which does not mean the reader should not take a look at the post.

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