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."