Iraq in 2011
The key question remaining in Iraq after billions of dollars have been spent is, will their government under Maliki allow and want US troops to remain. The Iraqi government has been sending mixed messages to US channels about this. In Iraq, the anti-US coalition under cleric Moqtaba al-Sadr threatened to unleash his own private militia if American troops fail to leave this year. If Maliki allows US troops to remain, there is a good chance the Iraqi government might fall apart because al-Sadr is part of it with considerable membership. Who knows what bloodshed would erupt. Some Iraqis do want at least 10,000 US troops to remain as a sort of "safety" net to ensure Iraq does not return to sectarian war, especially in the still volatile Kurd area.
As of May, 2001, 47,000 troops remain and most are involved in training or emergency combat situations. As to the Iraqi forces trained, most military leaders seem convinced that the Iraqis can handle their own internal security. That is about the extent of their faith in the Iraqi abilities. None of the advisers feel that Iraq would be able to defend itself should Iran decide to attack. In fact, many feel it would simply collapse. Saudi Arabia does not want the US to leave Iraq either because they fear it will embolden Iran to seize territory. The Iraqi Army has few heavy weapons and nil combat aircraft. Even the US equipment that will be left behind when the last Americans exit will fall into disrepair unless advisers train them to maintain it. Meanwhile, Iran does continue to supply arms to its militias within the country, as if, Iran is waiting for the right time to "activate" their cells. Members of Congress are also reluctant to sell advanced American weapons to Iraq (like F-16's) in fear that Iraq is tilting toward Iranian influence. There is some truth to that politically.
What happens in 2011 will be crucial to what happens in 2012 and beyond.
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