BAGDAD-In anticipation of the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the anti-American cleric, Muqtada Sadr has ordered his followers to discontinue attacks on American forces in that country. U.S. troops are scheduled to leave at the end of this year under a 2008 agreement between Iraq and former president Bush.
Although he has called on his followers to cease attacks, Sadr warned that attacks would continue if troops did not leave.
Some Iraqi officials as well as the U.S. are concerned that a complete withdrawal is not the best plan. It is believed that Iraqi forces have not reached the strength necessary to keep the militant organizations at bay and to keep the sectarian tensions in check. Obama is proposing that at least 3,000 troops remain in that country past the deadline for training purposes.
The Pentagon, on the other hand, would like to see at least 10,000 troops left in the country after the agreed upon departure date.
Sadr made a statement on his website yesterday saying, “to ensure the completion of Iraq independence and the withdrawal of the invading troops from our holy lands, it becomes obligatory upon me to cease the military operations of the honorable Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal of the invading troops is completed. If the withdrawal is not completed and Iraq remains unstable … military operations will be resumed with greater vigor.”
There are currently 45,000 troops remaining in Iraq.