Yesterday, Thursday 08/19/2010, the last USA combat unit, The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, of more than 4,000 US troops left Iraq to Kuwait a few days ahead to the scheduled plan of 08/31/2010, which was accorded by the IRAQ-US DEAL approved by the Iraqi cabinet on 11/16/2008 in the Bush administration period.
About 56,000 US soldiers are still stationed in Iraq to assist and train the Iraqi army. Some of the USA soldiers are from the Special Forces and it is assumed they still will carry out clandestine delicate and complicated anti-terror operations. In that aspect some combat troops are still operating in Iraq. In Iraq there are also over 3,000 private contractors from USA meant to provide security and protection to USA civilian employees and facilities and about 7,000 more are scheduled to operate in Iraq in the coming month. Many of those private contractors are USA forces veterans who return to Iraq for some extra money.
Although the situation in Iraq is much better then in the peak of violence in Iraq in late 2006-early 2007 with an average of about 2,000 civilians killed each month, it is very hard to say whether the situation in Iraq is nowadays really better then during Saddam Hussein’s regime, prior to the USA invasion to Iraq in late 03/2003. For many Iraqis Saddam’s regime provided basic civilian stability, security and infrastructure like electricity and streaming water. The Sunnis will, almost unanimously, say that for them Saddam’s period was much better, Kurds and Shiites, about 80% of the population, say the opposite. But Iraq still suffers from ethnic tensions and a high degree of terror, internal violence and political deadlock (see – IRAQ’S Standoff).
Iraq was during Saddam’s regime the buffer zone between the Arab Sunni world and Shiite Iran. Saddam Hussein did the dirty job of containing the Shiaa threat and was, therefore, supported, up to the invasion to Kuwait in 08/1990, by Arab countries, the Gulf Emirates and even the USA (see also -ABYSS IN ISLAM) .
Now Iran is just waiting to exploit the political standoff in Iraq in order to undermine USA achievements and interests in the Middle East (see – Secret-War). The Sunni countries are watching USA carefully whether they can rely on USA or not and each side is arming and supporting his proxies in Iraq. The danger of Iraq to become the battle ground between Shiite Iran and Sunni Arabs is very realistic. The stability of Iraq as an Arab country and not under Iranian patronage is the main test for USA diplomacy in the Middle East, aside the Iranian rush toward nuclear military capacity, and it seems USA did not make its mind yet.
The prospect of unconventional or nuclear armament in the Middle East is much higher then on the eve of USA invasion to Iraq, back in 2003.