With American troops expected to leave before the end of the year, speculations are rife about Iraq’s ability to maintain security in the war torn country and about the possible intervention of other powers, especially Iran, in its internal affairs.
The withdrawal of the occupation troops was not a unilateral decision on the part of the United States but one agreed upon by all political powers in Iraq, said Ibrahim al-Jaafari, former Prime Minister of Iraq in the Iraqi Transitional Government and member of the United Iraqi Alliance.
“Both the U.S. Congress and the Iraqi government refuse the presence of any troops whether American or other in the country without a legitimate reason,” he told Al Arabiya’s Panorama Monday.
When asked if Iraq will be capable of running the country on its own, Jaafari said that the American troops did not take part in dealing with the challenges that have been facing since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
“Even if we have some problems, we should learn how to face them and make our performance better,” he said.
Jaafari explained that Iraq is not up against a state war, but faces terrorist groups and these require light weapons and good training.
“When American troops withdraw, those militias who carry out terrorist operations under the pretext of defending the country against occupation will have no excuse now.”
When asked about the possibility of the intervention of foreign powers in Iraq’s affairs in the future, Jaafari replied that the withdrawal of American troops will also make this unlikely.
“We have good relations with all our neighbors but there is no reason any of them should worry about Iraq or any threat coming from Iraq. There was not one terrorist operation in the world that was done by Iraqis.”
Iraqi MP Abbas al-Bayati stated that the terms of withdrawal agreement and all the security procedures related to it have already been in effect for the past three years and that Iraq is quite ready for the coming phase.
Some arrangements, however, might still be made with the U.S. as far as training is concerned.
“We will need trainers and not army officers,” he told Al Arabiya. “Their work will be strictly professional and they will be brought to Iraq as part of armament agreements.”
Bayati agreed with Jaafari as far as the relationship between the withdrawal and the decrease in the frequency of terrorist operations.
“But in any case, Iraq is capable of fighting any group that takes up arms against the people and tries to impose its agenda in a violent way,” he said.
Former American Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim had said in earlier statements that the U.S. is worried about the possibility of Iranian intervention in Iraq especially, he said, that this already happening in Syria.
Zakheim explained that Iranians are smart and that is why they are not going to interfere in Iraq in an explicit manner right or immediately after the withdrawal of the American troops.
He added that one of the major reasons for concern is the fact that Iraq is not fully ready to face any threats especially on the level of the air forces. This, he argued, will make it much easier for Iran to interfere.
According to diplomatic sources in Iraq, it is likely that an agreement will be signed between the U.S. and Iraq and according to which 12,000 American soldiers are to remain in Iraq to protect its borders and air space.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)