By Gavin Jones, Director of Iraq Business News, and Partner at consultancy firm Upper Quartile. This article was originally published on the Emerging Economics blog. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The U.S. and Iraq have failed to reach an agreement on a Status of Forces Agreement (see previous article) – So ………. this means that all American forces will leave Iraq by the end of the year and after 10 years or so of US military influence in Iraq what does this mean for investors committing big bucks to the oil industry.
The stumbling point was Iraqi insistence that US Forces have no immunity and any American Military who commit crimes in Iraq be tried under Iraqi law – not a good idea in a young and petty corrupt country. American diplomats in Iraq will continue to have the usual diplomatic immunity and about 200 U.S. military trainers that will remain behind will also be covered but they will be restricted to specific “training” activities.
Ironically, most Iraqis wanted some American troops to remain behind as many Iraqis see American soldiers as “protectors” – in general Iraqis avoid calling American forces “liberators” as this would be a step a bit too far – but there is general acceptance that the Americans changed Iraq for the better and do offer significant protection from the various pressures that surround Iraq.
U.S. troops may have gone; they have not gone far – which is just as well. American forces will remain just across the border in Kuwait, another Arab state also fearful of Iranian expansion but unlike the Iraqis, the Kuwaitis are happy to celebrate their liberation (from Iraqi invaders) and are happy to thank Americans for it and – also quite happy to provide a home for US forces in the region (further straining already tense Kuwaiti / Iraqi relationships).
For centuries, European nations, particularly Britain, were the most popular foreign allies. But since the 1950s, the U.S. has become the big buddy-of-choice for many Arab States.