SOFA, So Good

In accordance with the status of forces agreement negotiated between the U. S. government and the Iraqi national government last year under Presidents Bush and Maliki, respectively, U. S. forces are no longer to be seen on the streets of Baghdad:

BAGHDAD — Iraq declared a public holiday Tuesday to celebrate the official withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi cities and towns, emptying the streets as many people stayed home because they feared violence.

As official Iraq celebrated, the American military announced the death of four soldiers on Monday from combat operations in Baghdad, a reminder of the continuing hazards for American troops here and the vulnerability of soldiers as they wrap up operations in the field.

In the past few weeks, with the approach of the official date for withdrawal, nationalist sentiments have spread within the Iraqi government and military, with officials all but boasting publicly that Iraq is ready to handle the security situation on its own. The date of June 30 was set in an Iraqi-American security agreement that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

Claiming that American forces have completely left Iraqi cities is a bit of an exaggeration. U. S. forces will remain in the city of Mosul, at least for the time being:

Although the number of daily attacks have been cut in half, security in Mosul is still precarious. Iraqi officials last week agreed to allow several dozen US soldiers to remain at each of five small bases within the city. After June 30, those combat outposts will be called “joint security stations” and the American soldiers will assist their Iraqi counterparts under the new stricter rules.

“The coalition is going to stay in some of the places where we need them — we will call for help,” said General Ghazal.

Additionally, American trainers will continue to be embedded with Iraqi units and I suspect they’ll be spotted in Iraqi cities from time to time.

Although there may be an increase in violence in Iraq as a consequence of the reduced visibility of American forces, I think that this small move in the direction of complete Iraqi sovereignty is wholly salutary and I’d also hope for a substantial reduction in the forces we have in Iraq by the end of the year. I don’t think I have too many illusions about the situation in Iraq. I think the situation will remain dangerous and fractious for the foreseeable future.

I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and I opposed our withdrawal from Iraq in 2005 or 2006. I think that events have proven me right on both scores. Now I think it’s time for us to start leaving.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Furhead says:

    I just wanted to note at this symbolic moment that the troops have done a stupendous job.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    That’s appropriate.

  3. trav says:

    i like how in each article i read the first thing it states is their are absolutly no us military personel on the streets of bagdad. funny thing i’ll be seeing those same streets tommorow.

  4. Brian Knapp says:

    I hope the people indiscriminately waving their guns in the picture aren’t representative of the security force taking over.

  5. I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and I opposed our withdrawal from Iraq in 2005 or 2006. I think that events have proven me right on both scores.

    I’ll go along with the latter, but I think the jury’s still out on the former. Don’t we have to wait until we see whether democracy takes root in the Middle East outside of Israel? The changes that had to be wrought on such a dysfunctional dictatorship in such a dangerous place were not going to be painless for anyone involved, and as we are reminded every day when it comes to the economy and nationalized health care, we can’t afford just to do nothing. There have been other changes that have happened as well because of this such as Qaddafi’s giving up his quest for WMD, or the ascension of Barack Obama which is undoubtedly one of the biggest consequences of the liberation of Iraq.

    I understand and respect the arguments made against the liberation of Iraq, but it still seems far too early to me to be so glib about saying it was obviously the wrong thing to do.

  6. Furhead says:

    Don’t we have to wait until we see whether democracy takes root in the Middle East outside of Israel?

    The only real problem I have with this statement is that wasn’t how the war was sold to the American people. The war was sold on 1) WMDs, 2) links to Al Qaeda, and 3) Saddam’s a really bad guy. Only one of these was true, and more evidence comes out every day that the Bush Administration knew this by the time the war started.

    Any future results of course have to be balanced against the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis that paid for it with their life. I would agree, though, that it is still possible that we will look back on this as a good move, even if done for the wrong reasons.

  7. Brett says:

    Good. This is the Iraqis’ problem now, and hopefully they won’t need to call on our troops too much in the future (getting out of Iraq would be a major money saver in terms of military costs).