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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iraq: Troops withdraw but U.S. drones remain

   Although U.S. troops are withdrawing from Iraq as required by the SOFA agreement with Iraq many Americans will remain. About 10,000 Americans will remain to staff the humongous U.S. embassy in Iraq as well as other consular offices. Included will be many security contractors to ensure the safety of personnel. Private contractors will also be involved in training Iraqi forces. However there will be another U.S. presence as well.
    Unarmed U.S. spy drones will be allowed to patrol in norther Iraq. These Predator drones will operate out of a Turkish air base in Turkey. The planes will be used to spy on rebels of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) who use camps in northern Iraq to launch attacks into Turkey. The information provided by the drones has been used by Turkey to launch air strikes. Turkey has on occasion even sent troops into the area causing Iraq to complain.
     This type of military assistance has helped improve relations between Turkey and the U.S. That the Iraqi government has agreed to allow the drones to continue their surveillance is rather surprising since the Iraqi government has protested against Turkish incursions and air attacks on Iraq. Perhaps the central government is less concerned about these incursions than the regional Kurd government in northern Iraq. For more see this article

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