We need a clear timetable for Iraq withdrawal

Share

While all eyes will be fixed on today's Middle East conference in London, the biggest and most immediate crisis remains that of Iraq. Yesterday's suicide attack in Hilla, south of Baghdad, which killed over 110 and wounded more than 130 Iraqi civilians queuing up to apply for government jobs, was the deadliest suicide attack so far in Iraq. It took place less than one month after elections were supposed to have opened up a whole new era of self-determination.

While all eyes will be fixed on today's Middle East conference in London, the biggest and most immediate crisis remains that of Iraq. Yesterday's suicide attack in Hilla, south of Baghdad, which killed over 110 and wounded more than 130 Iraqi civilians queuing up to apply for government jobs, was the deadliest suicide attack so far in Iraq. It took place less than one month after elections were supposed to have opened up a whole new era of self-determination.

The sheer brutality of the assault against civilians beggars belief, as does the motivation. Killing fellow Iraqis in this way seems barbaric and senseless. The aim of the insurgents would appear to be to make the conduct of government as difficult and dangerous as possible, and also to warn off anyone signing up to join the civil authorities. Yet the actions can only serve to harm the life and the livelihood of the people the insurgents would purport to support.

The difficulty for the nascent Iraqi government is how to respond to such attacks. On the one hand, the violence makes it ever more difficult to do without the military muscle of the US-led occupation forces if it is to achieve the kind of security needed for peaceful development. As Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister and leader of the minority secularist group in the assembly, argued yesterday: "We will continue to need and to seek assistance for some time to come."

On the other side, the continued presence of the coalition forces, including the British, only serves to fuel the insurgent anger and give strength to their cause of ridding Iraq of foreign occupation and hitting at anyone deemed to be aiding and abetting the occupiers. Remove those forces and you remove the main enemy against whom the insurgents, and their passive supporters among the population, claim to be struggling.

With negotiations still going on to choose an effective Iraqi government, the decision is hardly an easy one. But as the country moves closer to a transference of real power to the political parties elected at the end of January, now is the time for the US and the UK to consider a clear timetable of withdrawal.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz