News Release

Iraq: Green Zone Attacked as Panetta Visits; Is U.S. Trying to Extend Stay?


AFP reports “Rockets Hit Baghdad Green Zone as Panetta Visits.” Aswat Al Iraq reports: “U.S. Defense Secretary’s visit aims to keep U.S. forces in Iraq, MP says.”

RAED JARRAR, jarrar.raed at
An Iraqi-American blogger and political analyst based in Washington, D.C. and currently in Iraq, Jarrar said today: “According the U.S.-Iraqi Security Agreement, all the U.S. forces must leave Iraq in 174 days — by December 31st 2011. Today’s visit by the U.S. Secretary of Defense is seen by Iraqis as an attempt to prolong the U.S. military occupation. This has negative consequences for both countries: In Iraq, it will discredit the current political system and destroy the Iraqi government’s attempts to prove itself as a national government that is not controlled by foreign forces. This will lead to more violence in the country and add another layer of complications to the Iraqi crisis. For the U.S., it will destroy what’s left of President Obama’s credibility. President Obama has promised Iraqis, Americans, and the rest of the world to withdraw all the troops before the end of this year. Breaking his pledge will harm his image and credibility, and will jeopardize his attempts to sign withdrawal agreements with Afghanistan. It will also continue to be a waste of American blood and treasure in Iraq. Last month, the number of U.S. troops who were killed in Iraq is the highest since mid-2009, and this number will continue to rise if Iraqis continue to view the U.S. military presence as an endless occupation.

“What I find more concerning is the rumor about plans to extend the U.S. military occupation without getting approval by the Iraqi parliament. If the Obama administration chooses to bypass the Iraqi laws, constitution, and legislators and sign an executive agreement to keep the U.S. occupation, it will lead to catastrophic results in Iraq and the U.S.”

Martin is political director for Peace Action.