In Iraq, though, most people worry that with the departure of the U.S. military, which many consider a necessary evil, violence will shoot up once again. Iraq’s army and police are still fledgling forces backed by the U.S., and political parties, dueling ethnic groups and rival branches of Islam are vying for power, encouraging neighboring states to interfere.
Iraqis — and some U.S. military and intelligence officers and diplomats — think that different factions are counting the days until the Americans leave, aware that Iraqi forces aren’t strong enough to fend off major violence. Iraqi forces still lack air power or sufficient logistical support and struggle to unite under a fractious government. Iraqi forces have turned to their American allies in the face of major battles.
“The situation in Iraq will improve only if the Americans and the Iraqi politicians withdraw from Iraq,” said Abbas al Dulaimy, 31, as he walked through Baghdad. “The situation will soon be worse because the politicians will look out only for their interests like those who demand to divide Iraq . . . it will be chaos.”
The status of forces agreement between the Iraqi and U.S. governments signed late last year will reduce boots on the ground as well as U.S. influence on Iraqi matters. The first major test comes in June, when U.S. troops are to withdraw from Iraqi cities.
Americans may assume that once forces leave, the U.S. military will no longer be responsible for what happens in Iraq. Many Iraqis think, however, that the U.S. hasn’t prepared their nation to secure itself.
“The Iraqi army and police can’t achieve stability in Iraq when the Americans withdraw unless the Americans correct the matter,” said Usama al Najafi, a Sunni parliament member from the secular Iraqi National List, referring to corruption and sectarian and party loyalties within the security forces.