The spectacular success in early 2014 of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, is often blamed on the failure of the Obama administration to secure an American troop presence in Iraq beyond 2011. As the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2010-12, I believed that keeping troops there was critical. Nevertheless, our failure has roots far beyond the Obama administration.

    The story begins in 2008, when the Bush administration and Iraq negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement granting U.S. troops in the country legal immunities -- a sine qua non of U.S. basing everywhere -- but with the caveat that they be withdrawn by the end of 2011.

    By 2010 many key Americans and Iraqis thought that a U.S. military presence beyond 2011 was advisable, for security (training Iraqi forces, control of airspace, counterterrorism) and policy (continued U.S. engagement and reassurance to neighbors). The Pentagon began planning for a continued military presence, but an eight-month impasse on forming a new government after the March 2010 Iraqi elections delayed final approval in Washington.

    In January 2011, once the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was formed, President Obama decided, with the concurrence of his advisers, to keep troops on. But he wasn't yet willing to tell Prime Minister Maliki or the American people. First, Washington had to determine the size of a residual force. That dragged on, with the military pushing for a larger force, and the White House for a small presence at or below 10,000, due to costs and the president's prior "all troops out" position. In June the president decided on the force level (eventually 5,000) and obtained Mr. Maliki's assent to new SOFA talks.

    The Obama administration was willing to "roll over" the terms of the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement as long as the new agreement, like the first, was ratified by the Iraqi Parliament.

    Iraqi party leaders repeatedly reviewed the SOFA terms but by October 2011 were at an impasse. All accepted a U.S. troop presence -- with the exception of the Sadrist faction, headed by the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which held some 40 of Iraq's 325 parliamentary seats. But on immunities only the Kurdish parties, with some 60 seats, would offer support. Neither Mr. Maliki, with some 120 seats, nor former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the leader of the largely Sunni Arab Iraqiya party with 80 more, would definitively provide support. With time running out, given long-standing U.S. policy that troops stationed overseas must have legal immunity, negotiations ended and the troop withdrawal was completed.

    Given the success in winning a SOFA in 2008, what led to this failure? First, the need for U.S. troops was not self-evident in 2011. Iraq appeared stable, with oil exports of two million barrels a day at about $90 a barrel, and security much improved. Second, politics had turned against a troop presence; the bitterly anti-U.S. Sadrists were active in Parliament, the Sunni Arabs more ambivalent toward the U.S., and polls indicated that less than 20% of the Iraqi population wanted U.S. troops.

    Could the administration have used more leverage, as many have asserted? Again, the main hurdle was immunities. The reality is that foreign troops in any land are generally unpopular and granting them immunity is complicated. In a constitutional democracy it requires parliament to waive its own laws. An agreement signed by Mr. Maliki without parliamentary approval, as he suggested, would not suffice. (The legal status of the small number of "noncombat" U.S. troops currently redeployed to Iraq is an emergency exception to usual SOFA policy.)

    Some suggest that the U.S. could have made economic aid or arms deliveries contingent on a Status of Forces Agreement. But by 2011 the U.S. was providing relatively little economic aid to Iraq, and arms deliveries were essential to American and Iraqi security. Was the 5,000 troop number too small to motivate the Iraqis? No Iraqi made that argument to me; generally, smaller forces are more sellable. Could someone other than Mr. Maliki have been more supportive, and were the Iranians opposed? Of course, but with or without Mr. Maliki and Iranians we faced deep resistance from parliamentarians and the public.

    Could President Obama have showed more enthusiasm? True, Mr. Obama seemed to feel he couldn't force an unwanted agreement on the Iraqi people, and he didn't work with Mr. Maliki as President Bush had. But Mr. Obama spoke or met with Mr. Maliki three times in 2011, and Vice President Joe Biden was constantly in touch. What counted most with Mr. Maliki was not rapport but the coldblooded calculus of pluses and minuses affecting his political fortunes. On the other hand, the negotiations were disrupted repeatedly by White House staffers with public statements inaccurately low-balling the troop numbers and misinterpreting Iraqi decisions.

    The withdrawal of troops allowed President Obama to declare that he was "ending the war in Iraq" -- oddly, since it was the Bush administration's military victories and successful negotiation of the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement that had set the timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal. Later, during the 2012 presidential debates, Mr. Obama inexplicably denied that he had even attempted to keep troops in Iraq.

    Could a residual force have prevented ISIS's victories? With troops we would have had better intelligence on al Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS, a more attentive Washington, and no doubt a better-trained Iraqi army. But the common argument that U.S. troops could have produced different Iraqi political outcomes is hogwash. The Iraqi sectarian divides, which ISIS exploited, run deep and were not susceptible to permanent remedy by our troops at their height, let alone by 5,000 trainers under Iraqi restraints.

    James F. Jeffrey, the Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute, served as former U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2010-2012. Read his accompanying study on the Iraq troop-basing issue and its implications for current regional crises.

    Is the US withdrawing from Iraq?
    The withdrawal of the United States troops from Iraq began in December 2007 with the end of the Iraq War troop surge of 2007 and was mostly completed by December 2011, bringing an end to the Iraq War. more
    What was Iraq before it was Iraq?
    Mesopotamia Iraq, country of southwestern Asia. During ancient times, lands that now constitute Iraq were known as Mesopotamia (“Land Between the Rivers”), a region whose extensive alluvial plains gave rise to some of the world's earliest civilizations, including those of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, and Assyria. more
    Why did U.S. withdraw from Iraq?
    The U.S. military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 after failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government. Three years later, the Iraqi government asked it to return to help drive out the Islamic State, which conquered one-third of Iraq and large parts of Syria. more
    Did the U.S. withdraw from Iraq?
    The U.S. military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 after failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government. Three years later, the Iraqi government asked it to return to help drive out the Islamic State, which conquered one-third of Iraq and large parts of Syria. more
    Is Iraq Powerful?
    For 2022, Iraq is ranked 34 of 142 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx* score of 0.5597 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect').Breakdown. Category Totals Tanks 826 Armored Vehicles 5,050 Self-Propelled Guns 171 Towed Artillery 1,176 more
    Did U.S. withdraw from Iraq?
    The U.S. military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 after failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government. Three years later, the Iraqi government asked it to return to help drive out the Islamic State, which conquered one-third of Iraq and large parts of Syria. more
    Did the US withdraw from Iraq?
    The U.S. military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 after failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government. Three years later, the Iraqi government asked it to return to help drive out the Islamic State, which conquered one-third of Iraq and large parts of Syria. more
    Can Terk withdraw?
    To sell the TERK token on the Trust wallet, first, swap the TERK token with BNB on PancakeSwap. Convert BNB with the Stable coin BUSD; only then can you withdraw fiat currency on Binance. more
    Who help Iraq?
    100 Days of Progress in Iraq The top 12 financial supporters for the renewal of Iraq are (in descending order): the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Kuwait. more
    Is Iraq beautiful?
    Unfortunately, the contemporary western view of Iraq has been shaped by the terrible events of the last several years. One of the shames of that is that Iraq is such a diverse country with stunning natural beauty – a natural destination for photographers! Even so, a few fantastic shots manage to make it to us. more
    IS U.S. withdrawing from Iraq?
    The withdrawal of the United States troops from Iraq began in December 2007 with the end of the Iraq War troop surge of 2007 and was mostly completed by December 2011, bringing an end to the Iraq War. more

    Source: www.washingtoninstitute.org

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