ISSN 2330-717X

US Considering Permanent Base In Iraq – OpEd


By Hassan Hanizadeh

The unexpected trip by the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen to Baghdad led to an about-face on the part of the Iraqi statesmen on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two sides.

Mullen spoke during the visit with the Iraqi political leaders about the security accord’s destiny.

The visit was followed by the Sunni, Kurd and secular Iraqi parties’ announcing their tacit agreement with the extension of the agreement in a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal al-Talabani.


The parties tasked Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with drafting a bill on the matter and submitting it to the Iraqi parliament for ratification.

The four-star general insisted on the ‘need’ for prolonging the accord and granting the Iraq-based US soldiers immunity from legal prosecution.

Washington asked Maliki’s government to extend SOFA for another year.

Based on the agreement’s previous terms, the forces are scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2011.

The 47,000-plus troopers, who are currently deployed on the Iraqi soil, are slated to carry out a gradual pullout.

Washington’s desire for continued deployment there runs counter to its paying great human and financial expenses for the presence.

After occupying the country in 2003, the US would spend USD 5,000 every second for the 165,000 forces it had stationed there.

World’s military and economic experts estimate that the expenses from the US military presence in Iraq over the past eight years have reached above USD 1,400 trillion in aggregate.

The supernumerary costs have added up to Washington’s debt to the foreigners. This, in turn, has inevitably spread dissatisfaction across the American society.

The question now is why the US is insistent upon keeping up the presence despite the costs.

For sure, the recent developments in the Arab world, the fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian dictators and the prospect of change in the configuration of the Persian Gulf Arab regimes would affect the US decision to remain in Iraq.

The changes, which have so far taken place, are definitely not in the interests of the US and the Israeli regime. Washington is, therefore, seriously concerned about the upheavals.

The crisis in the tiny island of Bahrain has compelled the US to seek a new location for its Fifth Fleet.

From the perspective of the US, Iraq, having passed the stage of the Arab uprisings, will enjoy greater stability in the future compared to other small Persian Gulf states.

The US, thus, suspects that the wave of Arab uprisings might spread over to the Persian Gulf states in the next year and this wave might lead to the toppling of the Arab dictatorial regimes of the Persian Gulf.

The replacement of Iraq as the location for the Fifth Fleet of the United States is one of the objectives of the US in the extending of the Baghdad-Washington security pact.

America’s other objective from remaining in Iraq is the physical elimination of the anti-US Shia movements in Iraq and the reinforcement of secular and laic parties in this country.

The US sees the anti-US Shia movements as an obstacle to the realization of its aims in Iraq and therefore intends to eliminate the principlist Shia parties from the political and military scene of Iraq.

The elimination of the Shia parties in Iraq will grant the US more freedom in performing political and military maneuvers against the independent and non-compliant countries with the US around Iraq.

The collection of these rapid regional developments and the possibility of the eruption of further change in the region have impelled the US to persist in staying in Iraq.

Instrumental use of the MKO terrorists in Camp Ashraf against the interests of the regional countries is a segment of the US strategy in remaining in Iraq.

Thus, it seems if the Baghdad-Washington security agreement is extended for another year, Iraq’s political and military scenes would definitely witness fresh tensions.

The intensification of conflicts between Iraq’s Shia parties and the US forces will turn Iraq’s internal scene to the stage for the confrontation of this country’s political strata with the US forces.

These confrontations will certainly spill over to Iraq’s neighboring countries because the occurrence of any instability in Iraq will have its consequences on the neighbors of this country.

Therefore, on the one hand, the US is pressurizing the Nouri al-Maliki government to extend the Baghdad-Washington security pact and on the other hand, is practically stepping towards the elimination of resistant Iraqi parties.

What is certain is that not only does the continued presence of US forces in Iraq not help the establishment of security in this country, but it will also impact the future security of the countries around Iraq.

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Press TV

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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