The Iraqi Debacle Gilbert Achcar interviewed by Stephen R. Shalom and Chris Spannos
Q. Polls show the Iraqi population eager for a U.S. withdrawal, yet Iraq's elected leadership seems to strongly reject such calls. What do you think is going on?
Gilbert Achcar. I think that there is something here that must be clarified regarding the polls. What seems undisputable is that there is an overwhelming majority of Iraqis asking for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Naturally, few wish that the coalition troops evacuate the country all of a sudden in a precipitous manner, within say a few days, in the absence of agreement between the major Iraqi forces. That is because, in the present conditions, it could just leave the way wide-open for an all-out civil war in the country. But, at the same time, the great majority of Iraqis see that the very presence of these foreign troops is fueling the deterioration of the situation: it has fueled the growth of the insurgency for a long time, and now it is fueling the civil war itself. The sectarian strife is being constantly fueled indeed by the presence of U.S. troops and by the political behavior of the occupation authorities. This is why people who want these troops out believe that this is one of the key conditions for restoring peace in the country -- if that is still possible at all. Setting a deadline for the coalition troops' withdrawal, a timetable, would create favorable conditions -- so many people believe -- for speeding up the political process: it would allow the Iraqis to get to some kind of political agreement and find ways to stabilize the situation and reverse the sectarian war dynamics that have been unfolding.
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