Iraq Not Kidding About Troop Withdrawals

July 15th article saying Iraq has barred US troops from cities.

BAGHDAD — Two weeks after U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraq’s major cities, amid sporadic outbreaks of violence countrywide, Iraqi authorities aren’t asking American forces for help. Although U.S. troops are “just a radio call away,” in Baghdad and five other major urban areas, it appears the Iraqis haven’t asked even once.

In Baghdad, the Iraqis also won’t allow U.S. forces on the street, except for supply convoys.

The failure to trigger the “Onstar option” suggests that the government of Iraq and its military think they can deal with the car bombings, homemade bombs and attacks with silencer-equipped handguns that have plagued parts of the country in recent days.

As the June 30 deadline approached for withdrawing troops from major cities, U.S. military officials told their Iraqi army and national police allies that they were “just a radio call away” in case they needed American military muscle.

So far, however, it isn’t clear whether there’s been a call. McClatchy Newspapers special correspondents in Najaf, Basra, Anbar, Diyala and Mosul report that Iraqi forces have made no requests for U.S. combat help.

It seems to be working okay.

“The level of violence is at its lowest point since coalition forces came into Iraq in March 2003,” said Lawrence Peter, the director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq. “I’m confident the worst days are behind us.”

It’s clear that Iraqi authorities continue to lean on certain American capabilities they lack. While the Iraqi government has taken a hard line on no U.S. patrols in Baghdad except supply convoys, for example, many Iraqi officers privately have told their U.S. counterparts that they hope for more American involvement because of U.S. intelligence capability.

One caveat, according to the American officer in Baghdad: “as long as that involvement is only for select targeted raids with accurate intelligence, and the U.S. forces quickly exit the area after the raid is complete.”

However, the US hasn’t honored the deal to the letter:

The Iraqi National Police have reported a few minor violations of the June 30 agreement. On July 1, a U.S. patrol set up a checkpoint in a village west of Baqouba in Diyala province, searched civilian cars for two hours and drove off. On July 5, an American patrol set up a checkpoint, searched vehicles and conducted house-to-house searches in Abu Ghraib, a western suburb of Baghdad.

A Multi-National Force/Iraq spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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