Iraqis Celebrate being Free of US Troops, Fear US Meddling

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq held a rally in a sports stadium on Saturday to celebrate Iraq being free of US troops. He declared a national holiday, and thousands of Iraqis were surprised to receive a text message from him on their cell phones saying “All of us are for Iraq; the glory is to the people!” Who knew? Al-Maliki is the Ashton Kutcher of the Arab world! The prime minister claimed he would preserve political and religious pluralism, but he has thrown the country’s politics into turmoil because he accused a Sunni vice president of terrorist plotting. Members of the opposition party did not attend al-Maliki’s bash.

The Iranian foreign minister congratulated Iraq on its achievement in ridding itself of foreign troops.

But not everyone in Iraq is convinced that the US will leave Iraq alone. A Shiite preacher at a mosque in Diwaniya, a southern Shiite province, had this to say, according to the USG Open Source Center:

“In his second sermon, which addresses political issues, [Hasan] Al-Zamili congratulates the world, particularly “brother Christians” on the advent of the New Year. He adds that with each and every New Year, Iraqis’ hopes are dashed. Al-Zamili argues that the only things that a New Year brings are “the privileges, salaries, and allowances” granted to politicians in Iraq.

Elaborating further on this issue, Al-Zamili says: “We have received this New Year with problems and crises. This is the only year that comes when we are free of occupation. The occupiers are now gone, and the sons of the country are now in the driver’s seat. However, unfortunately, they have found nothing except for crises and the igniting of crises. All the new things that we see are crises and problems. Let the whole world know that the United States will not leave Iraq and Iraqi politicians to solve Iraq’s problems. It wants to send a message to the world saying that it was the party that brought things under control (in Iraq). If we were to know the facts, we would find that the United States was instrumental in creating Iraq’s current problems…” (From Buratha News)

Given that US allies in Iraq seem to be delirious with joy to have the US out of that country (the US was allied with these Shiite parties against Sunni hardliners), America is well out of Iraq. It is hard to see how staying longer would have convinced Sheikh Hasan.

As for the US, it should be celebrating not being at war anywhere in the Arab world for the first time since 2003. Happy New Year.

20 Responses

  1. Hi Juan,

    You may remember, we met back in 2005 or 2006 at the University of Virginia when you were there to discuss the Iraqi constitution. Anyway, I just came across your post and thought I’d write to let you know that I’m in Baghdad now as a journalist. The Iraqis I spoke with today in Sadr City were joking about Al Maliki’s Happy New Year text message, saying that he paid for it for money their tax money, and that money would’ve been better spent on reconstruction. Not that Iraqis pay much, if anything, in taxes.

    I have heard the sentiment repeated frequently that America’s meddling continues here; some people believe the ministries are rife with CIA agents and that there is even a secret military force in the Green Zone that is still doing night raids with the Iraqi military. It will be a long time before anyone here really believes that the US is gone.

    A Sadrist sheikh with whom I spoke today did, however, say something different than the norm. He said, “We don’t care about trainers or security guards at the embassy, we care about having tanks and Humvees in front of our houses, and only when we saw them rolling through the gates to Kuwait could we really believe they were gone. It was the first time we slept a full night in years.”

    Make of that what you will.

    -Elliott

  2. i quote: ‘some people believe the ministries are rife with CIA agents .’ i gather that the author is not one of the ‘some people’. well, be assured elliott, some people are right when they assume that even most of the americans are in one way or another, knowingly or unknowingly connected to the cia, or one of the numerous other american intelligence organisations, c.q. death squads. read the the books about these organisations and you will know.

    • Well, Mr. Van Houcke, please provide the evidence to substantiate your claim that “most of the Americans are in one way or another, knowingly or unknowlingly, connected to the CIA, or one of the numerous other American intelligence oraganizations.” I look forward either to your confirming evidence or to your admission that your claim is just hot air.

      • most of the americans who are now in iraq, to be precise, because that is the subject. what would be the mission of americans in iraq at this moment? to protect the democracy? to take care that human rights are not violated? to build up the iraqi infra structure? elliot, the illegal american invasion, which was in fact a war of aggression, was all about oil, as mr. greenspan and mr. bolton have admitted. ask yourself: why are the americans still in iraq? to spy, elliot, to take care that the western oil interests are protected.

        This is what kissinger had to say not long before the american organized cia-coup in which the democratically chosen president allende was killed:

        “I don’t see why we have to let a country go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible.”

        it is not the american people who commit these crimes, it is their intelligence agencies, like the cia, who are committing it. only american crooks are in iraq now, not decent people.

        • what would be the mission of americans in iraq at this moment?

          The same as any other foreign service mission in a friendly country: to keep up relations, engage in military and other forms of bilateral cooperation, and generally work to look after national interests in that country. In this case, they’ve got rather a lot of security guards, because there are rather a lot of security threats.

          I get it, I get it: America bad, blah blah blah. Fine, whatever, but it’s time to acknowledge that the war and the occupation are over, and we’re now talking about a completely different kind of American badness.

        • Oh, and of course the American mission in Iraq contains intelligence personnel. Everyone’s embassies contain intelligence personnel.

  3. “As for the US, it should be celebrating not being at war anywhere in the Arab world for the first time since 2003. Happy New Year.”

    Maybe “war” is not the the proper term, but I’m sure that somewhere an Arab is getting his or her throat slit, or droned, by our top secret, invisible, unaccountable, lavishly funded, truly “special” palace guard (what else would you call them, since they act on the orders of the President alone, no approval by congress requested, encouraged, or respected?).

    In 2012 I doubt the Arabs will find us any kinder. And the Iranians certainly increased their target value by threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz. They should know better than to threaten retaliation against hostile acts by the US, especially when so may of us would like to annihilate their country on the slimmest rationale.

    • I guess Notagainistan is not part of the “Arab World,” then? When it comes to “US” being at war with “them?”

      • Afghanistan is not part of the Arab world, and apart from Aljazeera doesn’t really feature prominently in Arab media. Afghans speak Dari Persian or Pashto in the main.

    • “Maybe “war” is not the the proper term, but I’m sure that somewhere an Arab is getting his or her throat slit, or droned, by our top secret, invisible, unaccountable, lavishly funded, truly “special” palace guard (what else would you call them, since they act on the orders of the President alone, no approval by congress requested, encouraged, or respected?).”

      Perhaps the “throat slit” is being accomplished by the regime of Bashir Al Assad, the regime in Tehran, or any number of other Near Eastern despots intent upon eliminating any opposition to their rule. Why do you assume it must be the U.S. Government behind it? That is, unless you harbor an irrational sense that only the U.S. Government is capable of such atrocities. History proves otherwise, and only the ideologically blinkered would think otherwise.

      • The only place in the Arab world where I know of American military action of any sort at the moment is Yemen, where there have been drone strikes secretly authorized by the outgoing Saleh government. The strikes are seen in Washington as self-defense, which is permitted in international law. In any case, you can’t really say the US is at war with Yemen, as opposed to being authorized secretly by Yemen to take out al-Qaeda.

      • Bill, I didn’t mean to imply that the US was the only nation doing this stuff, I am sure you are right that there are others. However, we are accountable for our actions an must take responsibility for them.

        I believe that our very secretive forces are very active in conducting violence against individuals and small groups. And I think the violence is so secretive because much of it could not be justified in the light of day by a “rule of law” nation.

        Of course I’m not privy to the secret operations, but there is enough in the news, especially about drone operations, to conclude that we are very busy and well equipped in that part of the world, and we’re not shooting blanks.

        • I believe that our very secretive forces are very active in conducting violence against individuals and small groups.

          The “people and small groups” who belong to al Qaeda on the receiving end of that violence aren’t going to ruin my holiday. It is an abdication of moral, legal, and political responsibility to simply call them “people” and leave it at that.

          And I think the violence is so secretive because much of it could not be justified in the light of day by a “rule of law” nation.

          How very odd, then, that our government goes on TV and brags about successful strikes against al Qaeda targets, if it’s so ashamed of them. Covert means are usually used in war in order to avoid tipping off the target.

      • bill,

        i quote:

        ‘why do you assume it must be the U.S. Government behind it? That is, unless you harbor an irrational sense that only the U.S. Government is capable of such atrocities.’

        one has to conclude that you never read any books about the cia involvement abroad. please do. as a starter read tim weiner’s legacy of ashes. or william blum’s killing hope, and rogue state.

        the us government is capable of committing atrocities on a huge scale as even mcnamara admitted in his book ‘in retrospect’ when he wrote that the american governments have ‘inflicted terrible suffering’ in south east asia, because ‘we underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values — and we continue to do so today in many parts of the world.’

        as a journalist i saw in 1995 how the american led destruction of iraq and the sanctions which killed at least half a million children under 5 years old resulted in atrocities too great to comprehend. i saw in baghdad children dying of cancer as a result of the massive use of depleted uranium weapons. and because of the sanctions they also had to die without medicines or enough painkillers.

        ‘Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

        Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.’

        link to youtube.com

        it is remarkable that the americans after 9/11 asked themselves: ‘why do they hate us so much.’ blowback, the cia calls it. read the work of chalmers johnson.

        –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

        • ‘why do you assume it must be the U.S. Government behind it? That is, unless you harbor an irrational sense that only the U.S. Government is capable of such atrocities.’

          one has to conclude that you never read any books about the cia involvement abroad. please do…the us government is capable of committing atrocities on a huge scale

          What you just did is taught in freshmen year logic classes as the “All men are John” fallacy. It’s a variety of fallacious reasoning that takes the proposition “John is a man” and draws the conclusion “All men are John.” Sort of like you just did with “the CIA” as “John” and “atrocities” as “men.”

    • (what else would you call them, since they act on the orders of the President alone, no approval by congress requested, encouraged, or respected?).

      We call that a “military.” Tell me, in what part of the world does the legislature, having declared a war, dictate what the targets will be?

      • The US legislature, or Congress did not constitutional declare war against Iraq. It conceded its authority to the President by legislation, which is itself an unconstitutional act.

        Treason, if anyone really believes in the US constitution, understands that treason is a daily affair perpetrated in myriad ways by many of America’s citizens, not solely or just by the goofs in Congress.

        • It conceded its authority to the President by legislation, which is itself an unconstitutional act.

          If this is true, then every single limitation the EPA has ever placed on the emission of air pollutants is unconstitutional as well. Congress didn’t pass those regulations; it “ceded its authority to the” executive “by legislation,” by passing the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which authorize the executive to decide what substances will be regulated, and how.

          But, of course, both the AUMF and the Clean Air Act regulations are perfectly Constitutional, as Congress using its powers to enable the executive to make decisions happens all the time, and has since the beginning of the Republic.

          Pretty much the only people who claim otherwise – who claim that Congress cannot delegate its powers, under whatever conditions it decides, to the executive – are extremist libertarians seeking to overturn the modern regulatory/welfare state.

  4. al-Zamili has gotten what he begged and murdered for. And in the having he and other thugs like him may likely wind up convincing Iraqi’s that a closer and deeper US/Iraqi relationship may not be such a bad thing after all.

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