Aiming at a September 1st goal of leaving only 50,000 troops in the country, the last U.S. combat brigade has left Iraq — leaving some 56,000 U.S. non-combat troops still there. International relations Professor Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle-East specialist and an advisor to the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, says much focus has been on whether the Iraqi government’s police forces — trained by the U.S. — will be able to provide security for its citizens. But an equally important question, he says, is about the impact the drawdown will have on U.S. political influence in Iraq. He feels U.S. leverage will decrease, playing into the hands of Prime Minister Maliki.
“The problem is that the prime minister’s quest for power may well foster more instability and violence. Therefore, even as Washington contemplates a qualified exit in 2011, it is in the enlightened interest of the U.S. to play a keener, more active role in fostering a collaborative political solution in Iraq, one which might nudge Maliki out of the driver’s seat.”
Contact Augustus Richard Norton, 617-353-7808, firstname.lastname@example.org