By Press TV
By Seyyed Mohyeddin Sajedi
The Iraqi government has expelled six US congressmen from the country. The decision was so shocking to the US embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, that only 24 hours later the US embassy declared that the congressmen had made personal statements.
What raised the Iraqis’ anger was a request by these congressmen that Iraq pays a portion — and even up to a half — of the expense of the US occupation of this country. The US delegation of congressmen had also requested a visit to Camp Ashraf, whish was also opposed by Iraqi authorities.
This decision of the Iraqis was welcomed by various factions within the Middle Eastern country to a point where even Ayad Alawi’s faction, which enjoys warm ties with Saudi Arabia and the US, wasn’t able to disagree with it.
The US did not enter Iraq at the invitation of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for the Americans to want to ask for compensation from the next Iraqi government.
Furthermore, US troops were never welcomed as ‘freedom forces’ by the Iraqi people.
The murders that US troops have committed in Iraqi prisons or on the streets of various Iraqi cities have not left a positive impression of the US military on Iraqi citizens. Despite the fact that the US forces ousted Saddam, Iraqi citizens never believed that these efforts were aimed at freeing them from dictatorship and not aimed at protecting US interests.
The monthly cost of maintaining US troops in Iraq was USD 4.4 billion in 2003 and USD 12 billion in 2008. So far the US has spent nearly USD 1.8 trillion in Iraq in the form of military hardware and personnel. Some analysts from within the US have even put this figure much higher than the official amount.
In September 2010, the Iraqi government agreed to pay USD 400 million in damages to the US for damages incurred during Saddam Hussein’s regime. In its 60th assembly last May, the Iraqi parliament agreed to pay this amount. The decision was met by widespread protests by the people and various political groups.
The US government has never officially asked Iraq to share the cost of the war but it tries to compensate itself by exclusively granting military and civil reconstruction projects to US companies.
The expulsion of the US congressional delegation from Iraq has been raised at a time when the SOFA plan to remove US troops from Iraq has become a hot topic. Based on this agreement the remaining 47 thousand US troops in the country are to leave by the end of September 2011. But Washington has been pressing Baghdad to agree to the remaining of tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq. US officials have claimed that the plan to maintain troops in Iraq is a part of the war against al-Qaeda. New US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told US Congress last week that roughly a thousand al-Qaeda operatives are still in Iraq and that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maleki has requested the US military to maintain troops in the country.
Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates took a more aggressive tone last April and asked Iraqi officials to give a positive response to the US request to maintain troops in Iraq, adding that they were running out of time to respond.
The al-Qaeda terrorist cell only entered Iraq after the US occupied the country and US security organizations were never able to prove that Saddam had cooperated with al-Qaeda and was never able to prove that this organization existed in Iraq during the reign of the Ba’ath regime.
The number of assassinations and bombings have increased in recent days and the Iraqi government has said that a number of cars equipped with explosives have entered the country lately. These reports are surfacing at a time when many factions within Iraq have been urging the Iraqi government to agree to the plan to maintain US troops in the country. Some sources close to the Iraqi government believe that the explosions will increase until the government agrees to US soldiers remaining in the country.
Some news sources claim that the al-Araqiya group and former Ba’athists have been carrying out the bombings with the cooperation of al-Qaeda. Given the closeness of the al-Araqiya group with Saudi Arabia it seems that Riyadh strongly favors the permanent presence of US troops in Iraq as it feels the lack of a US presence will be detrimental to its own security.
The Iraqi military is not able to provide security for Iraq’s airspace. The Iraqi government says that its forces are able to maintain the country’s domestic security but US officials, including the new US defense secretary, are insisting that the security situation in Iraq is vulnerable. Washington is trying to change the organizational defense mechanism of Iraq’s air and ground forces in a manner that would require the permanent presence of US troops in the country.
Even though the Iraqi government refuses to agree to the permanent presence of US troops in its country, the US will be able to keep a force of notorious private security contractors similar to Black Water under the pretext of providing security for its nearly 3,000 diplomats and contractors in Iraq.
Still it seems that the extended presence of US troops in Iraq is not completely independent of the recent developments in the Arab world, especially the popular revolts that are occurring in many neighboring countries. Protests continue in Syria despite efforts by the government to implement reform and the situation in Jordan seems very fragile. The US and Israel greatly fear any form of dramatic change in Jordan.
Maintaining US troops in Iraq is aimed at creating a permanent base in the country to influence the Middle East, which was the ultimate reason behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.