Baghdad, Jan.23 (ANI): Outgoing U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker has warned that a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from the country runs "some very serious risks," including fanning the resurgence of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq to a collapse of faith in a nascent Iraqi state that still faces what he called "enormous challenges."
A loss of confidence could create a "chilling effect," where people "pull back, dig the trenches, build the berms and get ready for what comes next. I'm not saying that that would happen; but I am saying these are dangers that could happen." The Washington Post quoted Crocker, as saying.The remarks come from a diplomat with decades of experience in the region who has made a trademark of sober assessments, in contrast to some of his predecessors, who at times tended toward unfounded optimism.
The Obama administration has set a goal of withdrawing the 142,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq within 16 months, although some may be left behind to protect U.S. diplomats and other officials, train Iraqi security forces and conduct some military operations.
That would be faster than the deadline of the end of 2011 for a complete American pullout, as outlined in a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that went into effect Jan. 1.
Crocker repeatedly said he believed the withdrawal would be conducted responsibly, a word frequently employed by administration officials in describing the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq.
But his remarks suggested that a debate will ensue over the pace of the troop pullout. (ANI)