Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with ABC channel that the White House plans to complete combat missions in Iraq in August, regardless of how efficient the provisional government is. The statement is particularly noteworthy in the context of a power vacuum in Baghdad, which emerged after the collapse of talks on a new coalition government between the parties of Sunni, Shia and Kurds.
As we know, the recent parliamentary elections have not led to a convincing victory by any one political force, which extremists and radical politicians took advantage of. Thus, political instability in Baghdad has called into question the complete withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, scheduled for late August.
And this is where Biden said that Americans are not going to stay in Iraq longer than a specific deadline for the withdrawal of combat troops. Earlier Barack Obama said the same thing, stating that the U.S. was going to complete its military operation in Iraq this summer, in strict accordance with the schedule.
Meanwhile, 43 people were killed and over 40 injured in the bombing in southwest Baghdad on Sunday. The attack was directed against the Sunni militia fighters Sahva (Sons of Iraq), who were standing in line for their salary.
"There were more than 85 people lined up in three lines at the main gate of the military base to receive salaries when a person approached us. When one of the soldiers tried to stop him, he blew himself up," Reuters news agency quoted one of the wounded militiamen.
In fact, since the parliamentary elections in early March, the political situation in Iraq has not been developing favorably for Baghdad. There were multiple major attacks. Tension on religious grounds between Sunnis and Shiites is getting stronger, while the Kurds make tougher statements about the expansion of autonomy, and extremists are increasingly bold and even sophisticated. The attack on the Sunni militia Sahva became another evidence of it.
These armed units were established in 2006, when part of the Iraqi militants, who once supported al-Qaeda, took the side of the Iraqi government. The emergence of militias Sons of Iraq was called a turning point in the fight against insurgents, as the members of Sahva actively participated in the fight against radical Islamists. Recently, however, Sons of Iraq expressed increasingly more complaints about the suppression and attacks by government troops. Now, after the terrorist attack undertaken against them, the Sunni militias found themselves between two fires. On the one hand they do not have much trust of the government officers Shiites; on the other hand, they became subject of retaliation for the radical Islamists, who see Sahva as a bunch of traitors. Therefore, there is no point in talks about the consolidation of Iraqi forces opposing the anti-government and anti-American militants.
Americans do not have much success in Afghanistan where the Taliban are more determined to take the initiative from the government troops. International forces in this country experience more noticeable resistance from the Taliban. In June, U.S. troops and allies suffered the greatest losses in recent time.
On May 31, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen said that the position of the Taliban in Afghanistan is stronger than expected. According to him, the year of 2010 should become a turning point for the international coalition against the Taliban due to increased number of troops and the success of national reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
However, Joe Biden, in his interview to ABC channel said that it was too early to judge whether the increased number of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan has made the expected impact. He said that this process will be completed in August, so the previous estimates were premature.
Addressing the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Biden expressed his belief that July of 2011, may, indeed, be called the deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. However, this process, he said, will depend on the ability of Afghanistan to maintain its own security within the country.
There are significant doubts regarding the ability of Kabul to control the situation in the country. The latest suicide bombing in Kabul killed at least three people and injured 35. The attack occurred despite increased security measures taken on the eve of an important international conference, which begins in the Afghan capital on Tuesday. The conference is to be attended by representatives of some 70 countries.
According to U.S. officials, they hope that a detailed plan of the Afghan government aimed at the improvement of governance and strengthening of stability in the country torn to pieces by war will be discussed at the conference. However, the message of the leader of Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammad Omar made on the eve of the conference is unlikely to make the participants optimistic.
According to General Joseph Blotz, a representative under the auspices of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Mullah Omar has sent a message to militants in Afghanistan from his secret base in Pakistan, where he is reportedly hiding.
In his message, Mullah calls on Taliban to fight the coalition forces until the end without giving up or stopping the fight. He calls on them to try to capture members of the coalition forces at every opportunity, enlist anyone who had any connection with the coalition, and try to take possession of heavy weapons. In addition, he ordered all his supporters to kill any civilians suspected of collaborating with coalition forces. And this is not an empty threat.
This means that the U.S.’s plans to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and even more so, Afghanistan, may be subject to major changes. According to a recent poll conducted jointly by ABC News television station and The Washington Post newspaper, 43 percent of Americans believe that military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan must continue.
America already has a sad experience of the Vietnam War, when the hasty withdrawal of U.S. combat units resulted in a crushing fall of pro-US regimes in South Vietnam and Cambodia. History sometimes repeats itself.