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Politics in Iraq Casts Doubt on a U.S. Presence After 2011
Posted By aaron On December 19, 2010 @ 12:54 am In Iraq | Comments Disabled
STEVEN LEE MYERS, THOM SHANKER and JACK HEALY
December 18, 2010
BAGHDAD — The protracted political turmoil that saw the resurgence of a fiercely anti-American political bloc here is casting new doubt on establishing any enduring American military role in Iraq after the last of nearly 50,000 troops are scheduled to withdraw in the next 12 months, military and administration officials say.
Given Iraq’s military shortcomings, especially in air power, intelligence coordination and logistics, American and Iraqi officials had long expected that some American military presence, even if only in an advisory role, would continue beyond 2011. That is the deadline for a troop withdrawal negotiated under President George W. Bush more than three years ago and adhered to, so far, by President Obama.
Even as contingency planning for any lasting American mission has quietly continued in Baghdad and at the Pentagon, however, the shifting political landscape in both countries has made it increasingly possible that the 2011 withdrawal could truly be total, the officials said. Both Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and Mr. Obama, struggling to retain the support of their political bases, have repeated their public vows to adhere to the deadline.
The military and administration officials emphasized in interviews that the White House had made no final decision on whether any troops might remain beyond the scheduled withdrawal — and that it would not even consider one unless asked by Mr. Maliki’s government.
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