In this 2016 presidential election season, I have become convinced that many Americans are supporting outsider candidates based on their seething frustration developed over the past two decades against government officials’ costly missteps with virtually nothing of value benefiting themselves. What they have gotten instead, is government gridlock, a lot of assigning of blame and finger-pointing; officials continuously dialing for dollars while the average U.S. taxpaying folks have been forgotten.
Here is another example of republicans attempting to assign blame to President Barack Obama for one of those expensive governmental huuuge mistakes. They charge that ISIS is President Obama’s fault, because he withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011 — when he should have kept some there to keep a lid on the insurgency. They further allege that when the U.S. withdrew, al Qaeda had already been rendered impotent; and therefore, ISIS was created because of the void that was left.
This time the republicans’ assertions have merit but not in the way, they think.
The decision for the U.S. military withdrawal date from Iraq by 12/31/11 had already been set by President Bush on 11/17/08 with the SOFA (U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces) agreement. President Obama’s implementation of President Bush’s timeline deadline had been endorsed by Gen. David Petraeus, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This 2008 timeline deal between President Bush’s administration and the Iraqis was not adequately constructed. Frankly put, the U.S. got played
During this time frame in 2011, there are witnesses present who claim that President Obama did not really want to leave any military behind and so he did not work very hard to get Iraq’s approval. However, it is my firm opinion that any such consent by Iraqi officials was never going to happen, even if President Obama had pushed hard for it. The shia Iraqi prime minister had already created ties with shia Iranian leaders who were not receptive to any U.S. military being left behind in Iraq.
Consequently, under the 2008 preset agreement regarding the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011, President Obama shouldn’t be held at fault for the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. troops. And yes, a significant American troop presence may have prevented the inception of ISIS, but it is extremely unlikely that the administration would have ever been granted this prerequisite permission.
BUT, this is where President Barack Obama failed. While it was President George Bush’s administration which encouraged the 2006 appointment for Iraqi’s new leader, Nouri al-Maliki, it was President Obama who made the grievous mistake of allowing him to remain at his leadership post beyond 2010, despite the Iraqi leader proving himself to be anything but a unify-er, counter to his original commitments.
What happened is that as soon as the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, the Shia Prime Minister Maliki exacerbated the ill feelings among Iraq’s minority Kurdish and Sunnis factions by ratcheting up their mistreatment. President Obama was informed about this problem by credible sources, but he chose NOT to act, and this refusal is what led to the creation of ISIS, a Sunni insurgency group, formed to counter the Maliki regime.
It will take at least a couple more posts to tell the whole story of how the reign of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (from 2006- 2014) is responsible for the rise of ISIS, which is a real threat to the western world.
The best article that I found on this subject is by Ali Khedery, in his 7/4/14 Washington Post op-ed piece, titled: “Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq.’ Here are some excerpts:
“To understand why Iraq is imploding, you must understand Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“I have known Maliki, or Abu Isra, as he is known to people close to him, for more than a decade. I have traveled across three continents with him. I know his family and his inner circle. When Maliki was an obscure member of parliament, I was among the very few Americans in Baghdad who took his phone calls. In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister. In 2008, I organized his medevac when he fell ill, and I accompanied him for treatment in London, spending 18 hours a day with him at Wellington Hospital. In 2009, I lobbied skeptical regional royals to support Maliki’s government.”
“By 2010, however, I was urging the vice president of the United States and the White House senior staff to withdraw their support for Maliki. I had come to realize that if he remained in office, he would create a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.”
Background story of the author:
“I volunteered to serve in Iraq after watching the tragedy of 9/11 from the Texas governor’s conference room. The son of Iraqi immigrants, I was dispatched to Baghdad by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for a three-month assignment that ultimately lasted almost a decade. As special assistant to Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and the Coalition Provisional Authority’s liaison to the Iraqi Governing Council, and as one of the few American officials there who spoke Arabic, I became the Iraqi leaders’ go-to guy for just about everything — U.S.-furnished weapons, cars, houses or the much-coveted Green Zone access passes.”
“After the formal U.S. occupation ended in 2004, I stayed in Baghdad to facilitate the transition to a “normalized” American diplomatic presence, and I often shared tea and stale biscuits with my Iraqi friends at the transitional parliament. One of those friends was Maliki. He would quiz me about American designs for the Middle East and cajole me for more Green Zone passes. These early days were exhausting but satisfying as Iraqis and Americans worked together to help the country rise from Hussein’s ashes.”
“Then disaster struck. During Jafari’s short tenure, ethno-sectarian tensions spiked catastrophically. With Hussein’s criminal excesses still fresh in their minds, Iraq’s new Shiite Islamist leaders concocted retribution schemes against Sunnis, resulting in horrifying episodes of torture, rape and other abuses. Displaced Baath Party members launched a bloody insurgency, while al-Qaeda recruited young men to stage suicide and car bombings, kidnappings, and other terrorist attacks in a bid to foment chaos.”
“After the February 2006 bombing of the Askariya Mosque in Samarra, a sacred shrine for Shiite Islam’s 200 million adherents, Shiite Islamist leaders launched a ferocious counterattack, sparking a civil war that left tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead. Jafari initially refused American overtures to institute a curfew after al-Qaeda bombed Samarra, insisting that citizens needed to vent their frustrations — effectively sanctioning civil war and ethnic cleansing.”
“Washington decided that change at the top was essential. After the December 2005 parliamentary elections, U.S. Embassy officials combed the Iraqi elite for a leader who could crush the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, battle al-Qaeda, and unite Iraqis under the banner of nationalism and inclusive government. My colleague Jeffrey Beals and I were among the few Arabic-speaking Americans on good terms with the country’s leading figures. The only man we knew with any chance to win support from all Iraqi factions — and who seemed likely to be an effective leader — was Maliki. We argued that he would be acceptable to Iraq’s Shiite Islamists, around 50 percent of the population; that he was hard-working, decisive and largely free of corruption; and that he was politically weak and thus dependent on cooperating with other Iraqi leaders to hold together a coalition. Although Maliki’s history was known to be shadowy and violent, that was hardly unusual in the new Iraq.’
“With other colleagues, Beals and I hashed over the options with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who in turn encouraged Iraq’s skeptical but desperate national leaders to support Maliki. Leading a bloc with only a handful of parliamentarians, Maliki was surprised by the American entreaties, but he seized the opportunity, becoming prime minister on May 20, 2006.”
“He vowed to lead a strong, united Iraq.”