Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2011'



US soldiers in Iraq (File Photo)

Source: Press TV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/194072.html

An analyst says US administration is putting intense pressure on the Iraqi government to extend the stay of American troops in the country beyond the 2011 deadline.

“I don't believe they (US troops) will be leaving [Iraq] by the end of this year (2011)... the Americans are pushing for a new agreement,” Zayd al-Isa, a Middle East expert, told Press TV on Monday.

Al-Isa pointed out that Washington has lost many important allies in the popular uprisings currently sweeping the Arab world and it cannot afford to lose its grip Iraq too.

The Middle East expert added that President Barack Obama is afraid that pulling US troops out of Iraq may lead to the deterioration of the situation in the country, which may work against him in the 2012 presidential election.

“The Republicans, particularly the neo-conservatives, are going to use it (US troop pullout) against them (Obama and his Democratic supporters) [in the 2012 election], particularly if there is deterioration in the situation,” Al-Isa said.

The analyst, however, said that breaching the terms of the withdrawal agreement between Washington and Baghdad would as be illegal as it is binding.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the United States and Iraqi governments mandates that Washington withdraws its troops from Iraq by the end of December 2011.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of destroying alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) belonging to executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

However, it was later found that the country did not possess any WMDs at the time and that the US and Britain, which led the invasion, were well-aware of the non-existence of such weapons in Iraq, but took military action against the oil-rich nation anyway.

Over one million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the occupation, according to a study by the British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB).

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