President Barack Obama has announced his plan to withdraw most US troops from Iraq by August 2010. The move will reduce troop levels from the current 142,000 to some 35,000 to 50,000 by that time. During his campaign for the White House, then candidate Obama had said he would completely pull out troops within 16 months of taking the top job.
Did the President break his election vow?
Barack Obama had wanted a 16-month timetable for the partial withdrawal; General David Petraeus wanted 23 months. So, with Solomonic wisdom, they have now split the difference and will withdraw a portion of the American troops in 18 months instead!
Meanwhile, for the past two years, Iraq has witnessed a flurry of high-level diplomatic visitors from neighboring countries, such as Iran, Jordan and Syria to bolster the country's newfound credibility as a sovereign state. Just a day ago, Kuwait's foreign minister met Iraqi officials in Baghdad in the highest level Kuwaiti visit to Iraq since Saddam Hussein's forces invaded its neighbor in 1990.
The Iraqi official channel, Al Iraqiya, has been airing reports of improvements in the country on several levels. The desired message: Iraq is safe and life has returned to normal. The Iraqi government has even purchased airtime on Al Arabia Channel to reach to a wider audience, mainly Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, Syria and other Arab countries with a similar message: Iraq is on the mend and is ready to be a sovereign state.
However, many believe that the country is not ready. Satellite television networks, financed by Sunni and opposition groups have been showing a totally different picture: The country lacks security and other basic necessities.
Meanwhile, several Arab commentators have accused Obama of reneging on the agreement signed between the United States and the supposedly sovereign Iraqi government guaranteeing the complete withdrawal of all American troops by the end of 2011. One reporter called President Obama's change of direction: the "war-lite" plan.
Can a withdrawal plan point to an "end" to the war while leaving behind a garrison of up to 50,000 troops in a hostile land?
These are just some of the questions being posed by critics to the newly announced plan for withdrawal from Iraq. The video shows Obama's earlier promise of a complete withdrawal, as well as Iraqi reactions to the president's announcement.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV.