The US and Iraq have been discussing the possibility of leaving 10,000 US troops in Iraq after the planned withdrawal date, insiders tell the Wall Street Journal. But Iraqi leaders worry that the move could strain sectarian relations and prompt protests echoing others in the Arab world. US leaders, meanwhile, hope that such a force would maintain stability and help minimize any threat from Iran, a concern shared by Israel and Saudi Arabia.
But maintaining a sizable presence could raise political concerns for President Obama, who made a campaign pledge to withdraw from the country and has not yet publicly said whether he would support the 10K-troop plan. On the other hand, Congressional Republicans would likely take Obama to task if he does pull out and violence escalates. No decision has yet been made, says an administration official. “The Iraqis haven't made a request for us to keep troops, and we haven't offered." There are currently some 47,000 US troops in Iraq in a training capacity, down from 170,000 in October 2007.