50 More Years in Mideast for US, Ex-General Says

Abizaid: Strategic situation won't allow withdrawal for decades
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2007 3:37 PM CDT
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, walks with Gen. John Abizaid in Southwest Asia, in this Jan. 18, 2007 file photo. (AP Photo/Robert Burns, File)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – It could be 50 years before US troops leave the Middle East, the former commander of US forces in the region said yesterday. The Associated Press reports that while John Abizaid acknowledges that US forces will eventually play an "indirect role" in conflicts such as Iraq, the military won't be able to completely withdraw for at least 25 years.

"The strategic situation in the region doesn't seem to show that as being possible," continued Abizaid, citing the rise of Sunni extremism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and dependency on oil as reasons. Characterizing current efforts as "80% military, 20% diplomatic, economic, political, educational," he asserted: "[We've] got to take that equation and flip it. Make it 80 percent those other things."