Saturday Aug 20, 201108:45 AM GMT
US terrified of Iraq troop withdrawal
Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:47AM
Interview with Michael Maloof, former Pentagon official, Washington.
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Despite massive investment in war against a number of Muslim countries in the Middle East, a decade of violence and aggression has led to a loss of US global influence.

Press TV talks with Michael Maloof, former Pentagon official in Washington, about Saudi and US worries over the waning of US control and influence in the Middle East, particularly the required withdrawal from Iraq at the end of this year. The following is a rush transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Why is Leon Panetta jumping the gun when it comes to announcing an agreement that is yet to be agreed or is it a smart propaganda move to pressure the Iraqis - Can this backfire on the Americans?

Michael Maloof: I think it is a form of pressure and that the US appears to be very anxious to extend beyond the December 31 deadline. The reasons for that is not that because they want to do training and they fear the Iraqi security forces need more training.

I think the reason the pressure is there is because of what they see is Iran's influence emerging more and more into Iraq and that's becoming a real problem for the US - Especially in light of what the US believes they have accomplished with the Syrians and causing so much disruption there given the relationship of Iran to Syria.

And I think what the US is fearful of is a Shiite crescent actually emerging from all this given that Prime Minister Maliki is Shiite and is close to Iran and that bothers the US tremendously.

Press TV: You've touched upon this a bit, but I'd like you to expand on this - Obama has never really stood by the reasons the US went to war against Iraq - Why is he so motivated to stay in Iraq now?

Michael Maloof: I think it's because of the changing circumstances; and you're only talking 10,000 troops; it's supposed to be a token amount, or they might agree to the extension of the 40,000 that are there.

But it's not going to really matter in terms of what effectiveness they can accomplish. I think the US is also under increasing pressure from the Saudis. It's my understanding that the Saudis have decided to go on their own - they no longer trust the US - to basically create their own army; a rapid reaction force if you will and they're very much concerned about the plight of the Sunnis in Iraq.

And so they're going to put pressure on the US to at least maintain some kind of presence there in order to in effect try to disrupt the forward motion of Iranian influence in what is an Arab world in that region and also because of the concern the Saudis have over the plight of the Sunnis there.

So I think the US has seen, and everything in the Middle East has shown, the ineffectiveness of US policy. And I think they're groping and grasping at straws.

Even in terms of Syria they just don't have the influence they once had and that's bothering policy makers a great deal in terms of trying to maintain that influence in the Middle East and try to cope with probable pressure from the Saudis to try to restrict Iranian influence from the Arab world.

Press TV: If an agreement does come through, does the US believe it will ever be able to shake of the widely held belief of the US being an occupier in Iraq?

Michael Maloof: Well, they were considered occupiers after about the first three or four weeks after they were there, after they liberated the country.

Then the US came in if you recall under Brenner and basically took over the administration of all of Iraq and immediately the complexion of US presence there turned from liberator to occupier and that has been the case ever since. We should never have been in Iraq in the first place.

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