Alusi: Normal Muslims Say, “Why are You Leaving Us in the Hands of the Iranians?”

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Interesting piece in today’s New York Post about how Sunni sheiks and others in Iraq and Afghanistan are switching sides for fear that the U.S. will abandon them as President Obama draws down troops.

This state of affairs echoes what I’ve heard consistently from my main source in Iraq, former Parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi, who has told me that the perceived U.S. hesitation to commit troops for the near future is leading many ordinary Iraqis to waver in their commitment to democracy – not out of a conflict of values but out of fear.

“If the U.S. believes they need to win feelings of Muslims, they are losing them,” Alusi says. “Normal Muslims say, ‘Why are you leaving us in the hands of the Iranians?'”

Because the U.S. President, in Alusi’s view, has not signaled clearly that the U.S. will not waver in its commitment to securing Iraq for democracy, instead pledging a total troop withdrawal by next year, extremists are empowered. If this trend continues, he cautions, U.S. troops and interests will be threatened as extremists are emboldened.

“There [will be] no control then,” he says. “[The U.S.] will be attacked from everywhere and there will be no value to tanks and modern weapons.”

One consequence of the drawing down of U.S. troops in Iraq that has already begun to manifest, according to Alusi, is increased Iranian infiltration into Iraq’s government.

“Iran is trying to take over Iraq and they control many issues,” he told me in August. “Iraqi democracy will collapse and is already in danger.”

“If you put the [U.S.] army out, Islamists say, ‘Now we did win. America did run away.'”

He adds, “I don’t believe President Obama or the U.S. government understand how dangerous the case is. They think just about the election in November. Mr. Obama should be not just a politician but a President, and a President means someone who doesn’t run from facts.”

Mr. Alusi, who served in the Iraqi Parliament for nearly five years before losing his seat in last spring’s contested elections, says he traces a deterioration of Iraqi security and government stability to the anticipation of the drawdown of U.S. troops.

“We don’t have a government, we have a vacuum,” he says. “We have Iranian agents and militias on the street.”

Iranians have tried to bribe him, as they bribe many Iraqi politicians to do their bidding, he claims. They have tried to make him “take weapons and be killers like them. But if we take from Iran we will be part of Iran/Syria” axis of power, he contends.

He refuses. He says he will stay in Iraq and promote liberal values.

“We will never give up.”

Regarding the drawdown of U.S. troops, he says he concurs with the view of an Iraqi general who recently said the U.S. would need to remain in Iraq for at least 10 years to promote stability. For their part, he says many U.S. commanders on the ground in Iraq have confided in him that they do not agree with President Obama’s recent drawdowns.

“American generals tell me, ‘You are right, but we can’t do anything, these are the orders,'” he says.

This entry was written by and posted on October 20, 2010 at 11:32 am and filed under Blog.