Iraq in Turmoil

US Senators are concerned over the possibility of a civil war and the current situation is of high priority with the US decision to withdraw troops on the 30th June of 2004. If the soldiers withdrawal their troops and begin the transfer of sovereignty, the balance of the current collation and the growing tension between the Shias and the Sunnis can exculate to devastating proportions within the Iraqis borders. For the past week US soldiers have been fighting in several major Iraqi cities, Falluja, Baghdad, Ramadi and least four cities in the country’s south. U.S. and coalition troops battled supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has gained many followers to set up possible ruling status for the Shiia’s once the transfer of power occurs. This is the beginning of a possible continous rebellion for the status of leadership in Iraq.

Muqtada al-Sadr is a Shiia cleric who is launching a power play to increase his stature in the country as a transfer of sovereignty approaches. An Iraqi judge issued a warrant for Sadr’s arrest in conjunction with the brutal murder of a rival Shiia cleric last year. On April 3, demonstrations following the coalition’s closing Sadr’s newspaper turned violent in Najaf. Complicating the situation in Najaf is the presence of thousands of Shiia Muslims in the area for the annual Shiite pilgrimage holiday called Arbaeen, which starts April 9. "Sadr’s gang is attempting without success to sabotage progress toward a free and independent Iraq," said Sanchez, a senior military officer. The struggle to gain control over Iraq is the goal for both the Sunnis and the Shias.

The timing for the withdrawal of troops seems to be in conjuction to the future election in the states. The withdrawal would show the American people that Iraq is under control and to let that date slip would show otherwise. The Iraqis are sending a clear message to the Americans and their supporters burning the American flag and chanting “Get out of our country!”

Following the terrorist attack in Madrid, there has been high concern over European security and future attacks. Mainly the countries of concern are those who are partners with the US who currently have troops in Iraq. Protests in many of the European countries with troops located in Iraq, followed the Madrid attack requesting that their governments remove their troops from Iraq and not to support the devastation that is occurring in Iraq. One man said, “We do not want another Vietnam, and that is what all this is leading to, but maybe worse.” He continued stating his concern with terrorism by saying, “They have at least 10,000 people waiting and are willing to die for their cause, the US does not know what kind of people they are messing with.”

In Italy, for the first time many of the locals are not willing to go outside of their homes into crowded areas to celebrate Easter, in Rome security alerts are on a high level with added metal doctors for those who want to celebrate at the Vatican. One woman said, ” I’m not going anywhere near St. Peter’s this year, I am going to stay home where I know it is safe.” A local in Florence, Italy is concerned for the security at the Duomo, “They are not putting any security measures over at the Duomo, there is going to be big crowds and I am not going near them.”

The costs of war and maintaining soldiers in Iraq are high for the American taxpayers as well as for international security concerns. The cost of military operations in Iraq is at 43billion dollars with a projected 50 billion. The cost of rebuilding and restructuring is currently at 33billion with an added 40billion in extra security. These numbers have a significant impact on the already existing American budget deficit which is expected to exceed 500billion at the end of this year. These added costs of war are to be financed by “off-budget emergency supplemental appropriations” and not to be included in the regular deficit. The only way to solve this growing decifit problem is through the pockets of the American people; to raise the taxes, or to lower the government programs. Either way, the effect will be on the civil society itself, cutbacks in jobs, cutbacks in tax spending incentives such as educational expenses, interest on mortgages, with a raise in luxury spending taxes such as automobiles or televisions.

Other war funding sources have been of assistance to the costs but have not come close to the amounts that are needed to lower the balance. At a pledging conference in Madrid in October a number of countries added to the US contribution, but in total the amount raised ($33bn) fell far short of Iraq’s needs. Thus, creating a shortfall of 20billion for the taxpayers.

To help solve this problem, political leaders suggested that Iraq’s oil potential should be able to finance its own redevelopment rather than relying on the US. Steve Schifferes a BBC News economics reporter has reported that, ” Iraq could increase its production from the current 2.5 million barrels per day to 6 million barrels if new oil fields are developed. That would increase government revenue from oil of about 15billion to about 40billion. But the problem is that it would take 5-10 years, and perhaps 25billion, to develop these fields.” At this rate with the lack of Iraqi support and a stable security environment, it seems unlikely that development of oil could happen in any near future. I don’t think this is what President Bush had in mind when he decided to enter into Iraq. Oil prices have risen steadily during the period of the war and are now higher than in many years. OPEC seems to be determined to keep the prices as they are, in spite of many request by the American government. Could oil be used as the new weapon of war in the next few years or has the greed for oil, spilled into greed to overtake a land for the use of the precious product, to increase the pocket book for a few while taking from the others and at what costs?