Bush speech signals stepped-up troop withdrawals from Iraq

Published on WSWS, by James Cogan, August 02, 2008.

President George Bush made a brief four-minute statement on Thursday morning to announce that the last of the five army brigades and three marine regiments sent to Iraq as part of last year’s “surge” had returned to the US and also to foreshadow a further reduction in US troop numbers later in the year …

… The legislation was vetoed by Iraq’s presidential council, which is headed by President Jalal Talabani, a prominent Kurdish nationalist leader. It has nevertheless provoked outrage in Kurdish nationalist circles. On Thursday, the Kurdish majority of the Tamim legislature passed a resolution calling for Kirkuk to be included in the KRG regardless of the position of the Iraqi government.

The reaction has been immediate threats of conflict. Mohammed al-Jubouri, an Arab member of the Tamim parliament, told Reuters: “We completely reject Kirkuk becoming a part of Kurdistan and consider this the beginning of a crisis and strife in the city. It could lead to civil war in Kirkuk.” It cannot be ruled out that the tensions over Kirkuk could escalate into open warfare between the Iraqi government and the KRG, which can mobilise a military force of over 200,000 peshmerga militiamen.

An invasion of northern Iraq by the Turkish military also cannot be ruled out. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally called Talabani on Thursday to voice concern over the vote in Kirkuk and to implicitly warn that Turkey would use force to prevent the city joining the Kurdish region.

These are the rotten foundations of the so-called “success” of the Iraq surge and the plans for a troop build-up in Afghanistan. (full text).

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