News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqInterview: Iraq warns others away as U.S. ends combat

Interview: Iraq warns others away as U.S. ends combat


Reuters: The Iraqi government has warned neighboring countries thinking they can fill the vacuum once U.S. troops withdraw not to interfere in its affairs, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Tuesday.

By Khalid al-Ansary

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The Iraqi government has warned neighboring countries thinking they can fill the vacuum once U.S. troops withdraw not to interfere in its affairs, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Tuesday.

Shi’ite Iran has gained considerable influence in Iraq since the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and Iraqi officials also complain of meddling by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria.

All have tried to play a role in directing Iraqi politics six months after an election that produced no clear winner and as yet no new government, and are now positioning themselves for when U.S. forces fully withdraw in 2011, Zebari said.

“Of course many of them are under the illusion that there will be a security vacuum the moment the U.S. forces leave Iraq and they can step in to fill the vacuum,” he told Reuters as U.S. forces formally ended combat operations in Iraq.

“We have warned all of them there wouldn’t be any vacuum, and if there would be a vacuum, the only people who will fill that vacuum are the Iraqis themselves.”

The end of combat operations in Iraq and an accompanying fall in U.S. troop numbers to under 50,000 is a milestone as President Barack Obama seeks to fulfill a promise to start ending the unpopular and costly 7-1/2-year-long war.

More than 4,400 U.S. soldiers and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, launched the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam.

The 50,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq will switch their focus to training and advising Iraqi forces as they fight a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency and Shi’ite militia, some of which the U.S. military says are armed and funded by Iran.

Under a bilateral security pact, the last U.S. soldier must withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

“I think it is a turning point in the American military engagement in Iraq,” Zebari said of the August 31 end to U.S. combat operations.

“For the current administration of Obama, it is an important day because he has fulfilled his pledge to the American public that he will conduct a responsible withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and he has done that.”

U.S. officials say Washington is not disengaging. Rather, the U.S. relationship with Iraq is transforming from a military one into a diplomatic and economic one.

Many Iraqis view the declining U.S. presence with alarm. Attacks by insurgents have continued ahead of the U.S. drawdown and amid the continuing political deadlock after the election.

Zebari said attempts by other countries to pursue their own agendas in Iraq made it all the more important that Iraqi leaders rise up to their responsibilities and “take the destiny of the country in their hands” by forming a government.

“It has not reached a crisis point yet but it is very close,” he said.

(Reporting by Khalid al-Ansary; Writing by Michael Christie; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Latest news

Iranian Regime Presidency Servers Taken Over By Dissidents, Exposing Regime Vulnerabilities

In a significant security breach, the official website of the Iranian regime’s presidency was taken over by Iranian dissidents...

Abolfazl Amir Ataei, 16, Dies After 8 Months In A Coma

Abolfazl Amir Ataei, a 16-year-old teenager in the Iranian capital of Tehran, died on Friday, May 26, after being...

Iran’s Regime’s New Hijab Bill Seeks to Silence Women

On May 21, Ebrahim Raisi’s government approved and sent a bill on "Chastity and Hijab" to Iran’s Parliament (Majlis)....

Iranian Opposition Condemns Release of Tehran’s Convicted Diplomat-Terrorist Assadollah Assadi

The recent prisoner exchange between Belgium and Iran, announced by the government of Oman, has sparked strong condemnation from...

World leaders call on Biden to adopt new Iran policy

In a joint letter, 109 former world leaders signed a letter calling for accountability in Iran and urging U.S....

The Unsettling Child Marriage Epidemic Sweeping Iran

The horrific scene of a man holding the severed head of his 17-year-old wife, Mona Heydari, in southwest Iran,...

Must read

Iran elections candidates: Mohsen Mehralizadeh

Iran Focus:Mehralizadeh, perhaps the most obscure candidate in the...

China hits back at new US sanctions over Iran

AFP: Beijing reacted furiously Wednesday to new US sanctions...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you