BAGHDAD — The top US military officer in Iraq warned on Wednesday of attacks in the run-up to an expected January general election and said he would ask Washington to alter troop drawdown plans if necessary.
General Ray Odierno told reporters in Baghdad that although all American combat troops are due to pull out by August 2010, the plan could change between now and May if the security situation deteriorates.
The threat of political violence linked to the election is a major concern for the government and US forces in the wake of bloody attacks in Baghdad on August 19 and October 25 which killed more than 250 people.
The attacks were aimed at the heart of government, including truck bombings outside the finance, foreign and justice ministries, and punctured confidence in Iraq’s domestic security forces.
“We believe that there will be an attempt to conduct more attacks between now and the election,” said Odierno.
“We have gotten some good information, we understand the leads we have and we have had some success in picking up individuals who were involved but we have by no means eliminated the threat,” he said, referring to subsequent Iraqi-led investigations, in which the US has provided assistance.
Security and counter-terrorism measures outside Baghdad, the restive northern city of Mosul, and along Iraq’s borders, seen as an entry point for terrorists, have also been stepped up “significantly” Odierno said.
The election, the second national poll since the 2003 US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein, is in doubt after one of the war-torn country’s vice presidents, a Sunni, vetoed the law governing the planned January 18 vote.
Christopher Hill, the US ambassador to Baghdad, has previously warned that any hold-up over the election timeline could conceivably alter Washington’s plans to have all combat troops out of Iraq by next August.
Odierno, however, said the deadline, set by President Barack Obama earlier this year remained flexible depending on the security situation.
He said he had up until April or May next year “if we have to defer from the August 31 date that the president has set.”
“I feel very confident that we don’t have to make any decision until late spring,” General Ray Odierno told reporters.
“Right now I believe that we can meet that date but again if I had to (ask Washington for a delay) I would.”
There are currently 115,000 American soldiers in Iraq. All US forces are due to exit the country by the end of 2011 under a security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington last year.
Obama draws straight line from ‘birther’ paranoia to the rise of Trumpism: analysis
On Saturday, writing for The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain broke down how former President Barack Obama's new book connects the dots directly between the racist "birther" conspiracy theories surrounding his presidency, and the rise of the political movement surrounding Donald Trump.
"Obama does not spend much time directly discussing his experience of race while in office, but, to the extent that he does, he makes a convincing case that the anti-intellectual populist movement now known as Trumpism began in part as a racial backlash to his own presidency — specifically, Trump’s conspiratorial campaign to establish that Obama had been born in a foreign country and was thus ineligible to hold office," wrote Hussain.
Here’s what Trump could do to tank the economy out of pure vengeance
Less than a week before the 2020 election, I interviewed a number of psychologists who speculated that if President Donald Trump lost to former Vice President Joe Biden, his narcissism might cause him to lash out by deliberately tanking the economy. Now it seems like that prediction might have been correct — although the reasons may have as much to do with the Republican Party's longstanding traditions as Trump's individual flaws.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Anti-vax groups online are helping to radicalize the QAnon movement
The alliance between anti-vaxxers and QAnon followers is rapidly increasing as they continue their efforts to spread massive amounts of disturbing misinformation amid the pandemic. One glaring example centers around one incident that occurred last week.
Facebook opted to nix a massive anti-vaccination propaganda group with more than 200,000 members last week. However, the group was not shut down for the dangerous public health misinformation its members posted, but rather, the disturbing promotion of QAnon, reports Huffington Post.