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Author`s name Ольга Савка

President Putin urges USA to withdraw troops from Iraq

Russia acts along with China at the time when not only allies, but even American citizens turn their backs to the Bush's administration

Another diplomatic scandal has recently occurred between Russia and the USA. Having a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Russian President Putin called upon the USA and its allies to set the terms for withdrawing the troops from Iraq. The US administration expressed its concerns about such a statement from Putin. The scandal took place against the background of the Russian-Chinese military exercise in the Far East. The exercise virtually became the progression of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, which had been held in the republic of Kazakhstan. Being SCO members, Russia and China called upon the USA to withdraw its army bases from Central Asia.

The Russian president had a meeting with King Abdullah II Of Jordan in the city of Sochi (a resort city on the Black Sea coast). The heads of states discussed the situation in the Middle East, touched upon the subject of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip and the Iraqi problem. Putin pointed out during the talks that the anti-Saddam coalition was supposed to set the date for withdrawing the troops from Iraq to be able to normalize the situation in the war-torn country. “We believe that one should develop a schedule for the gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. A lot of Iraqis perceive them as occupation troops, like they did before, and we know it very well. The solution of the goal will help attract a considerable part of the armed resistance in Iraq to the state construction process,” Putin said.

It did not take too much time for Washington's harsh reaction to arrive. Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, emphasized that the US president had clearly expressed and clarified the USA's standpoint on rendering security help to Iraq. “When Iraq has enough energy to guarantee its own security, we will leave,” McCormack said. The official also referred to George W. Bush's opinion, who said that withdrawing troops from Iraq could be interpreted as betraying the Iraqi nation. In addition, Bush believes, such a step would undermine the USA's entire struggle against the international terrorism.

After a series of so-called velvet revolutions, which swept across several republics of the former Soviet Union, Russia started taking decisive measures to look for allies in the struggle with the American conception of the unipolar world.  The declaration, which was approved at the end of the above-mentioned SCO summit in Kazakhstan, said that Russia, China and Central Asian states urged the USA to determine the date to withdraw military bases from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, for there was no further need in the bases, which had been deployed for the purpose to conduct the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan.

The US administration became rather nervous. The US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, visited Kyrgyzstan at the end of July. Rumsfeld said that the USA intended to keep the army bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for they had been deployed there on mutually beneficial conditions. Spokespeople for the Kyrgyz government said that Kyrgyzstan was not going to oppose the positions of Russia and the USA and thus decided to let the American base stay on its territory. Russia and China, in their turn, decided to train their defense efforts in a large-scale military exercise, which raised considerable concerns with the USA. The Iraqi issue surfaced quite naturally: both Russia and China criticized the start of the US-led campaign in Iraq.

The harsh response to Putin's statement can be explained with purely American problems too. A mother of an American military man, who died in Iraq, organized an action of protest near the ranch of the US President George W. Bush several days ago. The woman protests against the continuation of the Iraqi war saying that the war is being waged for the sake of American oil corporations, representatives of which sit in the US administration. The woman asks for a personal meeting with the US president and claims to move her action of protest to Washington. 

It goes without saying that the fact of the two largest countries in the world conducting joint military exercises seems to be extremely alarming for the USA. It was not only Russia and China, which criticized the war in Iraq: USA's staunch allies, Germany, for example, denounced the US-led campaign in Iraq too. Even Canada did not volunteer to send its troops to Iraq. To crown it all, American citizens become more and more concerned about the Iraqi issue against the background of ongoing numerous losses of US military men. Putin's statements are supposed to improve Russia's positions in the Middle East, which Washington views as the area of its strategic interests. The US administration will obviously try to take adequate measures in response, but it will be rather hard to do so: Russia acts along with China at the time when not only allies, but even American citizens turn their backs to the Bush's administration.

Ivan Shmelev

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