The people of Iraq faced a horrible terrorist attack aimed at their nascent government.
At least 127 people have been killed and more than 200 others wounded in a series of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, police say. Two car bombs exploded near the labour and interior ministries, two more struck in central Baghdad, and another at a police patrol in Dora, in the south of the city. The first explosion in central Baghdad was heard at 10.25 am (0725 GMT) on Tuesday, with a second blast within seconds and a third one a minute later.
Yesterday, eight people were killed when a bomb exploded at a school in Baghdad. The dead included six children, 41 people were wounded in the attack and gunmen stormed a checkpoint near Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, killing five members of an anti-al-Qaeda group.
As of now the US has 115,000 soldiers in Iraq, next year that number drops to 50,000 and we are supposed to have a complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. But attacks like those of this week, raise the question is 2011 too soon? Many in the Iraq Army think so, they think that the US Troops should stay longer:
A senior Iraqi military official says the Iraqi army wants to continue a long-term training relationship with the United States beyond the 2011 deadline for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Gen. Nasier Abadi, vice chairman of Iraq’s army, told The Washington Times that Iraqi commanders would welcome continued training by U.S. forces despite the withdrawal deadline set late last year.
Gen. Abadi said the relationship would depend on next year’s Iraqi elections. “Depending on what the new elected government next year views, how it considers America, how it considers Iran, does it still want good relations with America or not, this will decide on whether they ask us what we need,” he said.
But if the decision belonged to the Iraqi military leadership alone, he said, “the answer is yes, yes and yes.”
Even the politicians are coming around to the thought that the US should stay around a little longer.
…there are signs that even the Shi’ite political parties, which were the least comfortable with an American presence, may accede to any military request for a continued U.S. training relationship. Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the powerful Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, told The Times in an interview that the U.S. Embassy had not formally raised the subject since the signing of the status-of-forces agreement and that such a decision was best left to military specialists.
The need goes beyond training, the Iraqis need our air cover also:
Gen. Abadi said”You have a country, and the country does not have a roof. Who is protecting the roof? It is the USA,” he said. “It is the U.S. Air Force that is protecting our skies. For Iraq to say goodbye to the U.S., it would have to have something that will do the job when the American forces leave.”
Gen. Abadi said Iraq has only three working C-130 aircraft, which could be used to transport troops quickly. The Iraqi air force also has 24 MI-17 medium transport helicopters.
Iraq’s air-reconnaissance fleet consists of a few Cessna Caravans equipped with U.S. Hellfire missiles and a King Air Beechcraft. The country lacks sufficient radar installations.
“The U.S. was kind enough to donate a radar system that we have up north. We will not say where,” the general said. “They are providing us with another one, which will be down south. But we need another one in the middle of the country and another one in the west.
In the end the decision whether we will stay longer or leave will be left to President Obama. Will he base his decision on the “facts on the ground” or politics? Based on last week’s Afghanistan speech, politics will probably win.