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Iraqis welcomes Obama's pullout plan
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13:13, March 01, 2009

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by Jamal Hashim

Iraqis Saturday welcomed a pullout plan of U.S. combat troops announced by President Barack Obama, though some voiced a cautious optimism about the country's future.

"Iraq welcomes Obama's announcement because we want our security and future to be built by its sons," Basam al-Sharif, a Shiite lawmaker, told Xinhua, describing Obama's announcement about the plan to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq 19 month after he took office.

On Friday, Obama announced the plan to withdraw most troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010, leaving about 35,000 to 50,000 of the current total of around 140,000 troops behind. The task of the left behind would mainly be counter-terrorism and training duties.

Obama also promised to pull home the rest of U.S. troops by the end of 2011 in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that Iraqis signed with former President George W. Bush.

"Obama's decision is inspiring for the Iraqi government which should be ready for the moment through rapidly-build professional security forces to protect the new democracy in the country," Sharif said.

However, Salar Mohammed, a 37-year-old government employee, fears early and complete withdrawal of U.S. troops may jeopardize recent gains of stability and security in Iraq.

A gradual pullout is better for a country which sectarian bloodshed unleashed by the U.S.-led war nearly tore part, he said while taking pictures of his three-year-old son playing on a sliding board in a Baghdad park.

Flanked by his rapturous mother and aunts, the kid, who was in low spirits because of being stranded at home, rejoiced on the lawn of the park, neglectful of American Apache and Black Hawk helicopters flying over.

Mohammed believed security is still fragile in many areas of Iraq because the problem has something to do political and sectarian differences despite the reconciliation efforts made by the government led by Nour al-Maliki.

"An example for the fragile security is the fear of possible armed conflict between Arabs and Kurds over the disputed areas that the Kurds want to annex to their expanding territories," he said, referring to the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other provinces adjacent to the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Saad Hussein, an Iraqi journalist, welcomed the troops withdrawal that he was waiting for.

"At last, it is about time to leave, because at the end of the day the U.S. administration was obliged to admit that it can't rid of all Iraqis who are against America or sympathize with its adversaries," Hussein said in a telephone interview with Xinhua.

"After years of battling insurgents house by house, province by province," the Americans came to the understanding that the U.S. troops should not stay and shoulder responsibility for security in Iraqi streets until Iraq comes to perfect union, Hussein said.

"The war costs too much money and too many victims from both sides and it is time to give Iraqis the chance to decide a better future," he said.

Hussein believed the withdrawal is "a test for Iraqis to run their country away from any foreign interference that plunged the country into the swamp of violence."

Obama's announcement was a result of improved security in Iraq, according to an Iraqi Army Colonel, who expected the pullout would greatly help reduce bloodletting in Iraq.

"We want out troops to control the streets, not the U.S. troops, because foreign troops on our land would certainly create friction with Iraqi civilians, many of whom did not tolerate seeing them and their tanks rolling on their soil," the officer who refused to be named told Xinhua.

Source: Xinhua



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