Since the last 13,000 U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in December 2011, the question remains as to whether post war Iraq is better off with or without U.S. troops.
Post War Iraq – High Costs with High Losses
When President Barack Obama announced that his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 will be kept in October, the president offered assurances that both he and the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, agreed on this decision. However, the question remains as to whether this seemingly politically charged decision was to the benefit of both parties involved. While the war took its toll on both countries, as Iraq suffered from over 100,00 civilian deaths and the U.S. lost nearly 5,000 soldiers and spent over one trillion dollars, tensions remain in post war Iraq after the final U.S. troops left the war stricken country in December.
Post War Iraq – Failing Government
During post war Iraq, the foundations that were laid out while U.S. troops were in the country quickly dissolved once U.S. troops were withdrawn. Considerable tensions arose between the various political and sectarian factions in Iraq. The majority Shiite government recognized the Iranian-backed militia group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, as a legitimate political party. Moreover, the Iraqi National Movement, which represents most Sunnis in that region, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, stating that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis. In February 2012, a panel of Iraqi judges concluded that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni who fled to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region after the government accused him of running a sectarian death squad, was in fact guilty of carrying out 150 attacks over six years against religious pilgrims, security officers and political foes. Meanwhile, insurgent forces continue to be active as well, causing tension between civilians and the government.
Post War Iraq – A War Within
While the political divisions and controversies during post war Iraq are concerning to many, violence in the region has continued to grow since the U.S. troops departure. Due to the growing number of insurgencies with the lack of a U.S. military presence, violence has increased sharply with over 1,000 post war Iraqi deaths since the U.S. troops left in December. Militant groups, mainly al-Qaeda, have stepped up attacks targeting the country’s majority Shia population to undermine confidence in the Shia-led government and its efforts to protect people without American backup. While the number of exact deaths remains unknown due to so many incidents throughout the country and because the number of attacks often increases during Shiite pilgrimages, these estimates show how, without the backing of the U.S., Iraqi security forces were unprepared for such aggressive attacks, causing many to speculate that the U.S. pulled out too early at the risk of the Iraqi people.
Post War Iraq - Human Rights Concerns
As post war Iraq clearly struggles with the growing violence and political instability, human rights conditions have been extremely poor according to Human Rights Watch. According to their report, protests are met with Iraqi security forces and gangs using excessive violence and threats against civilians. Furthermore, there is a lack of freedom of expression as armed groups continue to attack journalists. The report goes on to state the issues that were present before the war continue to rise during post war Iraq such as domestic abuse, gender inequalities and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
As post war Iraq continues to struggle with its many issues and controversies, it seems that, while many Americans were in favor of pulling troops out of Iraq, the act was too sudden and left Iraq unprepared for the turmoil it now faces with growing violence and lack of a stable government.
The Question Remains: Is Post War Iraq Better With or Without US Troops?