Enduring bases, and Iraq after troop withdrawals

I can’t follow the mass of speculation on the timetable for leaving Iraq, and I don’t think anybody else can either. On the one hand we see continuing large-scale coalition involvement, such as the [largest air assault since 2003](http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1733050,00.html) and [the move of 3500 US troops back into Iraq](http://www.fox6.com/news/national/story.aspx?content_id=6936F2D2-A0A0-456A-8AF4-E4A89C1B9C39&rss=national). On the other hand, Nuri al-Maliki is [talking](http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1781019,00.html) about getting troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.

But that doesn’t matter so much. The real question is what ‘withdrawal’ means. It doesn’t mean abandoning political control of Iraq – that’s something I’ll write about more in a couple of days. But even militarily, it’s unlikely that all foreign troops will leave the country. More likely, the Americans will retreat further into a few small strongholds, retain bases to enhance their regional power. They will keep some control over the Iraqi military with ‘trainers’ and ‘advisers’, and by ensuring that air power and other heavy equipment is kept for the Americans only.

People have been writing about this for some time now. The Iraq Analysis Group has [collected](http://www.iraqanalysis.org/info/364) some of the more prominent, and [Sarah Meyer](http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=MEY20060411&articleId=2257) of GlobalResearch has collated many relevant news reports.

Below the cut, I delve into the ‘enduring bases’ theory, and swerve dangerously close to conspiracy theories. Please, please take this as me collecting my thoughts, and not as a prediction of what will happen….

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