A dramatic increase in al-Qaeda violence in Masul and Baqubah may doom President Barack Obama’s plans to withdraw combat troops from Iraq.
The top American general this week told The Times of London that more troops may be needed to control violence in those two troubled cities.
Any delay would be a setback to Obama and could fuel the attacks of opponents who claimed his withdrawal plan was too ambitious and would leave Iraq vulnerable to increased violence and a takeover by al-Quaeda troops.
An admission of a possible setback comes as the President is demanding that Congress fast-track more money for the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama is also under fire from some critics for failing to keep an increasing number of campaign promises. In reality, the young, inexperienced President is finding that making a campaign promise is a whole lot easier than keeping one.
The activities of al-Qaeda in two of Iraq’s most troubled cities could keep US combat troops engaged beyond the June 30 deadline for their withdrawal, the top US commander in the country has warned.
US troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year if necessary, General Ray Odierno told The Times in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking over from General David Petraeus in September.
He said that a joint assessment would be conducted with the Iraqi authorities in the coming weeks before a decision is made.
Combat troops are due to leave all Iraqi cities by the end of June. Any delay would be a potential setback for President Obama, who has pledged to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 as he switches his focus to Afghanistan.