There are still some great mainstream journalists in Iraq, sneaking in revealing stories that let us know what is really going on there. Jane Arraf of the Christian Science Monitor is one of the best operating there these days, and her recent article is really terrific, putting the lie to the promised U.S. withdrawal from Iraqi cities.
Iraqis are declaring a national holiday when this withdrawal is scheduled to take place on Tuesday because this would -- if actually implemented -- get U.S. troops out of the business of patrolling in Iraqi cities, breaking down doors and invading houses to capture "suspected" insurgents or sympathizers or citizens who have any knowledge. And it would also remove the biggest provocation for insurgents, and thus reduce the number of carbombs and IEDs dramatically, since most are targeted against the U.S. or the Iraqi government forces commanded by aggressive U.S. officers.
But this article predicts that the U.S. is not really going to withdraw. Instead, it will use U.S. troops to encircle the cities and stop movement in and out, in an attempt to capture suspected insurgents and their sympathizers (while definitively disrupting economic and social life of the cites), while Iraqi military units -- under continued U.S. command (and therefore aggressively invading homes and communities) -- sustain the in-city offensives the U.S. has been conducting.
The most incredible news in the article is in the last paragraph (how often is that the case?), where the US command general in the key area, Major General Robert Caslen, says, "The US military, because of the security agreement, has lost a lot of its authorities [sic] to direct the Iraqi military on what to do. And the question is, how do you remain effective? And the answer is: through the relationships."
Notice that the US is not interested in actually relinquishing "authorities [sic] to direct the Iraqi military," but rather to maintain it, "through the relationships." Actually, maintaining the "relationships" are explained earlier in the article: US officers will be sitting right next to Iraqi officers at the "command and control level," "persuading" them to conduct the operations that the U.S. military would have conducted (i.e., aggressive home and community invasions).
Oh, and one more incredible thing: the U.S. is not concerned with reducing violence by these ongoing campaigns. No, as General Caslen told Jane Arraf, he is concerned that "a portion of a village, a town, or a portion of a city...became a safe haven for Al Qaeda [i.e., insurgents]." Such a location would not be violent -- it would be peaceful, but would be controlled by forces that oppose the U.S. presence and would be political (and perhaps military) opposition to the Iraqi central government. That is, the U.S. is still intent on rooting out the opposition to the U.S. presence and to the U.S. installed government in Iraq -- the only new thing is that they hope to accomplish this by using Iraqi troops to invade communities, while U.S. troops surround these communities and put the squeeze on them.
What is happening? Well, the US military is attempting to continue its campaign of pacification, using Iraqi troops under US command on the front lines, with US troops playing support roles.
This is more like colonialism than withdrawal.