“At this point, the withdrawal is going well, because they are still here,” he added. “But the problem will start after 2011 … the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011.”
Iraqi army Capt. Mohanned Ibrahim told Agence France-Presse that the gunmen left through the back door, and that two bombs in the house and the garden killed eight of the soldiers and wounded four others.
The incident highlights doubts about the tactical competence of Iraqi forces, who will take charge of military operations in the country at a transition ceremony Aug. 31.
But retired U.S. Army Col. Paul Hughes, now an Iraq scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace, told The Washington Times that Gen. Zebari’s concerns — and those of other senior Iraqi military officers he had talked with — were focused on the capacity of the Iraqi military to defend the country against potential external aggressors after the U.S. military leaves at the end of 2011.
“What he’s concerned about is the Iraqi military being able to defend the country’s borders against an invasion,” he said. “They live in a rough neighborhood.”
“The Strategic Framework Agreement contains no provision — [for] ongoing military cooperation beyond 2011,” he said.
Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the Bush administration’s Iraq Study Group, told The Times that whatever might happen afterward, the 2011 departure date is fixed.
“I’ve never been a fan of deadlines,” the Indiana Democrat said. “They are not good policy … [but] the political pressure to create them is very strong.”