Obama's Iraq: The Picture of Dorian Gray

While the US tries to present a new face, the ugliness of the occupation continues. Now it seems combat troops won’t exactly withdraw from Iraqi cities on June 30.

Remember when Barack Obama made that big announcement at Camp
Lejeune about how all US combat troops were going to be withdrawn from
Iraqi cities by June 30? Liberals jumped around with joy, praising
Obama for ending the war so that they could focus on their "good war"
in Afghanistan.

Of course, the celebrations were and remain unwarranted.
Obama's Iraq plan is virtually identical to the one on Bush's table on
January 19, 2009. Obama has just rebranded the occupation, sold it to
liberals and dropped the term "Global War on Terror" while, for all
practical purposes, continuing the Bush era policy (that's why leading
Republicans praised Obama's plan). In the real world, US military
commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq presence for
another 15-20 years, the US embassy is the size of Vatican City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded.
The SoFA Agreement between the US and Iraq gives the US the right to
extend the occupation indefinitely and to continue intervening
militarily in Iraq ad infinitum. All it takes is for the puppets in Baghdad to ask nicely...

the latest episode of the "Occupation Rebranded" mini-series, President
Obama is preparing to scrap the June 30 withdrawal timeline.

As The New York Timesreports:
"The United States and Iraq will begin negotiating possible exceptions
to the June 30 deadline for withdrawing American combat troops from
Iraqi cities, focusing on the troubled northern city of Mosul,
according to military officials. Some parts of Baghdad also will still
have combat troops."

According to the Times, the US is playing with the definition of the word "city" when speaking of withdrawing combat troops from all cities:

[T]here are no plans to close the Camp Victory base
complex, consisting of five bases housing more than 20,000 soldiers,
many of them combat troops. Although Victory is only a 15 minute drive
from the center of Baghdad and sprawls over both sides of the city's
boundary, Iraqi officials say they have agreed to consider it outside
the city.

In addition, Forward Operating Base Falcon, which can
hold 5,000 combat troops, will also remain after June 30. It is just
within Baghdad's southern city limits. Again, Iraqi officials have
classified it as effectively outside Baghdad, so no exception to the
agreement needs to be granted, in their view.

Combat troops with
the Seventh Field Artillery Regiment will remain in the heart of
Baghdad at Camp Prosperity, located near the new American Embassy
compound in the Green Zone. In addition to providing a quick reaction
force, guarding the embassy and noncombat troops from attack, those
soldiers will also continue to support Iraqi troops who are now in
nominal charge of maintaining security in the Green Zone.

Camp Victory is of tremendous strategic importance to the US
occupation. In addition to the military's share of Baghdad
International Airport, it includes four bases-Victory, Liberty, Striker
and Slayer-as well as the US-run prison "Camp Cropper." That's where
the US keeps its "high value" prisoners. While the US officially handed
control of Forward Operating Base Freedom to "Iraqi control," the US
military is keeping the swimming pool.

Meanwhile, future plans are being laid for other US bases. Camp
Prosperity is going to house US contractors and other personnel, while
at Camp Union III housing is being built for several thousand soldiers,
trainers and advisers.

What is abundantly clear is that there are enough cosmetic changes
going on in Baghdad intended to make it look like the occupation is
ending, while continuing it. Again, from the Times:

The Green Zone was handed over to Iraqi control Jan. 1,
when the agreement went into effect. In addition to the United
States-Iraqi patrols, most of the security for the Green Zone's many checkpoints and heavily guarded entry points is still done by the same private contractors who did it prior to Jan. 1.

"What you're seeing is not a change in the numbers, it's a doctrine change,"
said First Sgt. David Moore, a New Jersey National Guardsman with the
Joint Area Support Group, which runs the Green Zone. "You're still
going to have fighters. Every U.S. soldier is trained to fight."

The Iraq occupation is like The Picture of Dorian Gray. No matter what public face the Obama administration attempts to present, it only grows more heinous with each passing day.

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