False Dawn in Iraq

The reality of the US 'departure' from Iraq is worthy of closer examination

As US combat units pulled back into Kuwait today, a single soldiers was spotted shouting "we won, we won." What has been won is perhaps the narrative that states, despite regular bloodletting, Iraq is a success that the US can depart from with honor.

Yet all is not what it seems. Firstly, some 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq from next month with an advisory and assistance title, but in reality the same capabilities as regular combat divisions.
Secondly, the US has helped create a massive domestic security infrastructure in the country made up of some 650,000 men, however as Lt. Gen. Babakir Zebari told a news conference in the Baghdad, "the U.S. army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020."

Such is the reliance of the nascent Iraqi military on US support that whenever a government is formed (five months and waiting) many suspect that the 'State of Forces Agreement' (SOFA) will be renegotiated to allow the US to help protect the internal flashpoints of Mosul and Kirkuk, and the looming external threat of a regional conflict with Iran.

The US will likely avoid a 'Saigon moment' in Iraq due to the 7,000 or so security personnel equipped with Blackhawks and MRAPs guarding the largest embassy on the planet, yet the reality of their long-term relationship with the country has yet to be determined.