After President Obama announced at the end of last month that the U.S. troops in Iraq would be pulled out by the end of the year, the administration is now speeding up the complete withdrawal of approximately 40 000 troops by early December this year. This announcement was met by strong disagreement in the ranks of the Republicans. They fear that the pulling out of the US forces at this point would leave the country prey to Iran and give Al Qaeda a chance of resurgence.
Senator John McCain, who ran against Obama in the 2008 elections, deeply criticized the President's decision to withdraw all US troops by December this year. He expressed his concern that the administration's commitment to the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq may have played a crucial role in accelerating the process. However, one of the key issues the US had to face was the refusal of the Iraqi government to grant judicial immunity in case to any remaining US troops.
Nevertheless, Republicans' concern about spreading Iranian influence within Iraq may not be that implausible. Iranian military and political power in the country is now further enhanced by its growing soft power. According to Al Arabiya, cheap goods produced in Iran have flooded the Iraqi markets, while Iranian companies have invested billions of dollars in construction projects throughout the country, including the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
In comparison, the Democrats perceive this decision as a relief on the US economy. While a war is always costly both financially and in terms of humanties casualties, sustaining it in a period of economic recession risks the stability of the whole country.
Yet, as the US prepares to pull out its troops, both American and Iraqi analysts are expressing fear of a new surge of Al Qaeda offshoot in the country. With the death of Osama bin Laden, the organization is seeking to assert more power and strengthen its position with its allies. Senior Iraqi analysts are concerned that ties between Al Qaeda and members of the former ruling Baath party may start to reform once the American troops withdraw.
Still it is worth noting that in any circumstances the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq effectively puts and end to an eight-year war that cost the lives of more than 100 000 civilians and 4000 troops.