The United States is constructing multiple military bases in Iraq, and a gigantic embassy in Baghdad. Even as the US Congress, media, and citizenry debate withdrawal from Iraq, indisputable evidence on the ground shows a permanent imperialistic plan for US-occupied Iraq, says Patrick Seale.
….This is a geopolitical development of the first importance. It is a clear statement that, in spite of its current difficulties in Iraq — May was the most lethal month since 2004, with 119 U.S. soldiers killed — the United States firmly intends to maintain control of Iraq and its vast oil reserves. Iraq’s neighbours and energy-hungry states and oil companies will take note.
On a visit to the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu on 31 May, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the United States was looking for a “long and enduring presence” in Iraq under a mutually agreed arrangement with the Iraq government.
“The Korea model is one, the security relationship we have with Japan is another,” he said. U.S. troops have been in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and in Japan since the end of the Second World War.
Last week, the White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed that President George W. Bush wanted to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq at the invitation of the host government. “The situation in Iraq, and indeed, the larger war on terror, are things that are going to take a long time,” he said.
….In the years since the invasion, there have been numerous journalistic accounts of mammoth bases the United States has built and continues to expand. There is the giant Al-Balad base covering 14 square miles some 40 miles north of Baghdad, formerly the Iraqi Air Force Academy. There is the even bigger Al-Asad (in al Anbar) base covering 19 square miles; the Al-Tallil base (Ali Air in Nasiriyah) ; the Al-Sarq (sic: Al Saqr or Rasheed/CampFalcon in Baghdad) base; the Al-Qayyarah (Q West, with 11,500 and 11,800 foot runways) base in the north, and many others. (corrections, clarifications are blogger’s)
Shortly after its invasion, the United Staes established 110 bases in Iraq. The present plan appears to consolidate these into 14 “enduring bases” in Iraqi Kurdistan, at Baghdad airport, in Anbar province and in the southern approaches to Baghdad.
Nor does the construction of a U.S. embassy able to house 1,000 staff on a 100 acre site on the banks of the Tigris — the biggest U.S. embassy in the world — point to an early U.S. disengagement from Iraq.
Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.