Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00
President Obama has indicated that all combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. What does the withdrawal mean for Iraq and the region?
First of all, it is important to understand the history of our modern day involvement in Iraq. Our direct involvement started well over 50 years. It was under the Eisenhower Administration when the United States took out Iran’s democratically elected leader. He was replaced with a friend of the United States, the Shah of Iran. Then, in 1980, the U.S. Embassy was seized, and the Shah was overthrown. Next, as President Reagan was sworn into office, the prisoners from our Embassy were released in 1981.
Next, a war started, just before Regan’s election in 1980, between Iraq and Iran. Believe it or not, we sold weapons to Iran during that seven year war.
The next step in this story, almost like a fiction novel, developed when Iraq decided to invade Kuwait in August of 1990. As a result of that invasion, the United Sates, with full United Nations support, launched an effort to expel Iraq troops from Kuwait. The military effort was successful; but a new dimension to the effort took place. President George H.W. Bush, following United Nation’s guidelines, stopped the military effort without taking Baghdad or capturing Saddam Hussein. That decision brought an avalanche of criticism from Democrats who said Bush should have totally taken Iraq.
Now, we go fast forward to March 20, 2003 when President George W. Bush moved on Iraq because of some evidence that Iraq was harboring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Now, there was no doubt that Saddam Hussein used gases and chemical weapons against the Kurds in Northern Iraq, but the WMD were never found. President George W. Bush ordered the taking of Baghdad and the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Again, criticism came from Democrats for invading Iraq, capturing Saddam Hussein, and taking Baghdad. You figure all of this out. It is almost impossible to understand.
Now, President Obama has ordered that all of our combat troops leave Iraq by the end of this year. What does this mean for the future of Iraq?
One issue is very clear – the number of Christians in Iraq continued to decline even with U.S. troops in Iraq, Christian Churches have been bombed with the number of Christians now down to well under 1 million compared to 2.2 million a few years ago.
A friend of mind from Iraq, Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, recently wrote to me about his concern for the future of Iraq. He said – “…the fear of US, after leaving Iraq, is the capacity of Iran working behind the scenes to influence and redirect the politics and security of the mid-east region.”
His other concern expressed in his email related to the Kurds in Northern Iraq. He feels that the Kurds may create an “…independent Kurdish state.” And he also expressed concern about the “rise of Islamic fundamentalism…”
He went on to say, “the odds are that in 20 years there will be very few or no Christians remaining in Iraq.”
There is no doubt that the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq will have severe consequences on the entire region, including the possibility of another war between Iran and Iraq! And the possibility of Iran with nuclear weapons is something Israel may well have to confront. Only time will tell the whole story.