Crocker Cautions Against Abrupt Iraq Withdrawal

Ambassador cautions that al-Qaeda will take advantage of power vacuum
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2009 4:14 PM CST
US soldiers secure the area where a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad on Tuesday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The US ambassador to Iraq warned today against an abrupt troop withdrawal, saying it would invite foreign fighters, CNN reports. If we “decide suddenly we’re done, they would certainly work to use space that opened up,” Ryan Crocker said of al-Qaeda. Crocker, who will step down shortly, said President Obama’s plan for withdrawal, if executed wisely, could mesh with the conditions of the US-Iraq security pact.

Despite improved political and public-safety conditions, but said “there is still a ways to go, and clearly I think still a continuing need for our security support.” Obama’s 16-month withdrawal plan has troops out roughly 1½ years before the current deadline. An Iraqi spokesman said early withdrawal was acceptable as long as it is “responsible, not sudden, and not a unilateral decision.”