Biden and Conditions of US Withdrawal from Iraq

Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Baghdad articulated the finer points of the arrangements for the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq. The withdrawal will take place at the end of this calendar year and will be crowned with a visit to Washington by [Nouri] al-Maliki to put his signature on the final U.S. dictates. The ceremonies are designed to give the impression that the Americans have left Iraq to its own people and have thus fulfilled their obligations to (1) the Security Council and the global community, (2) the American people, and (3) the people of the Iraqi resistance.

The past eight years of courageous Iraqi resistance to the American occupation cost the occupiers more dearly than they had expected. This resistance, combined with the ignominy of dishonest justifications for the war and the subsequent occupation, is responsible for the Americans’ rushed decision to withdraw in this rather uncomfortable manner. Now the Americans are reduced to trying to ensure that their withdrawal does not spell the complete failure of their venture in Iraq and in the wider region. To that end, they have been finalizing plans since 2008 for a conditional withdrawal, which they hope will do its part to preserve certain claims and privileges post-occupation, and without incurring additional losses.

This is the same strategy pursued by the Obama administration in Afghanistan with the decision to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014 in arrangements ensuring the ongoing strength of America’s influence and leverage, pacifying the Taliban and making them partners in rule with [Hamid] Karzai. In this now-familiar scenario, Karzai demands that the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan and leave his people to author their own fate, just like al-Maliki and members of his government are doing right now.

In a speech made before Biden, al-Maliki suggested that the withdrawal will come as the ripe fruit of the negotiation process. Here he is presenting himself as if he were responsible for the achievement of withdrawal. His contradictory behavior, however, exposes this as fallacious. Al-Maliki had laid garlands of flowers on the graves of American soldiers killed by the Iraqi resistance, and now he genuflects before the aforementioned American conditions, both visible and hidden, which will keep Iraq as a powerless hostage. This is in addition to his consent to the exoneration of America from (a) the responsibility of participating in the reconstruction of Iraq to compensate for the extent of destruction they caused, (b) the prosecution of those who committed crimes during the war and the occupation, (c) sought remuneration for the human damage inflicted upon millions, (d) any official pledge to help Iraq emerge from Chapter VII [of the United Nations Charter], a task that must be shared by those who are the reason Iraq is now in such a state.

A withdrawal guaranteed under these conditions is a new black mark against the disappointing coalition government, and it is an incomplete victory for the Iraqi resistance. The majority of the power-holders in the ruling government have consented to this — and we speak of a ruling government engineered by the Americans to serve beneath them in Iraq by way of those unannounced conditions — with the passing of the deal to structure a relationship with the Americans, wherein we initiated a comprehensive and strategic alliance with them and established seven joint teams to apply the terms of the agreement in these vital areas: periodic political and security consultations, arming and weapons training, energy, education, health, justice and media.

The Washington Post reports that the American army in Iraq stands to be replaced by an army of diplomats, advisers and intelligence workers, as well as oil contractors, arms dealers and a new breed of security contractors. How could it be otherwise, when Washington wishes to establish a consulate in each of Iraq’s governorates and to assert complete control over Iraqi airspace (on the pretext of their own self-protection) by way of fixed and mobile radar devices and airbases in neighboring countries? And how could it be otherwise, if the number of people working for the American embassy in Baghdad exceeds 10,000 employees, including a plenipotentiary ambassador with absolute omniscience regarding what takes place in the bedrooms of all who enter the Green Zone? And how could it be otherwise, when this ambassador has his own delegate in every neck of the country, even having in the Kurdistan Federal Region what al-Maliki himself does not have?

Leave to Biden his terms and conditions, before which those in the Green Zone prostrate themselves. Leave to al-Maliki his roleplaying and posturing which fail to convince even those who serve alongside him in the so-called “State of Law” (we see nothing legal about it.) And leave to the Iraqi people their steadfast resistance, not ceasing until the twisted ropes of the American occupation are cut from the neck of their country, the hand that implements America’s plans is amputated, and the Americans have departed at last.

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