Glenn Kessler in Washington Post, Saturday, May 15, 2004
Powell Says Troops Would Leave Iraq if New Leaders Asked
This is just talk. An idiot could see this will not be possible until insurgents and Al Sadr are back in the box. To walk away before this would leave a de facto Shia fundamentalist state in the south and what would amount to mafia/warlordism in the Sunni triangle, while in Iraqi Kurdistan an autonomous state was well-established before Saddam's removal.
Even an amateur, armchair commentator can see that the soon-to-be Iraqi government will not be able to control the volatile elements even the Coalition is finding difficult to repress. The other two scenarios are:
1) Iraqi government using even more force
2) trying to use a mixture of force and negotiation
They would be more likely to get a result in (2) than (1), but there would be a tendancy to more chaos and intermittent demands that the central authority could not accept.
Peter Galbraith's, How to get out of Iraq
is the way to go if the general feeling of Iraqis is "get out". By having substantial forces including USAAF in Kurdistan. There must be flaws in this argument, but it makes sense because
a) the Kurds like the Americans
b) from there they can protect greater Iraq fromn external threats.
If the Shia south decided to form a similar autonomous state to the Kurds, there would be a danger of undue Iranian influence, which the U.S. would be unhappy with.
The major part of Iraqi oil is in the south. Prof. Juan Coles says Sistani and fellow top Ayatollah are not keen on a Theocracy for the south. So Al Sadr is therefore only trying to make sure the Shia in a greater Iraq have their share of the political power the Shia feel they have always been denied. If he is not, and is simply doing the Iranians bidding (he is being supplied with money, arms and agent provocateurs from Terhan), then the Iraqi government to be will have to squash his Mahdi Army just as the Americans are trying to.
Logically, the new government will see the Americans more likely to succeed at this task and will therefore NOT ask the Coalition to walk away, lock, stock and barrel, in the immediate term of say between 18 months and three years.