Posted by | April 9, 2011 14:10 | Filed under: Top Stories

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, followers of Shiite cleric Maqtada Sadr,  took to the streets in Baghdad to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein and to call for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

“If the Americans don’t leave Iraq, we will increase the military resistance and restart the activities of the Mehdi Army,” Sadr said in a statement.

CNN said the protesters carried Iraqi flags and banners, with some chanting “Baghdad is a free country, America get out!” and “No for Occupation, No for America.”

“If they decide to stay in our country, then we have to do two things: first is to escalate armed resistance and [then] lift the freeze on Mehdi Army,” said Salah al-Obaidi, the cleric who read Sadr’s statement to demonstrators.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that the U.S. needs to stay, even beyond the declared pullout date of 2011.

In a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the president of the autonomous Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani Gates explained it was time Iraq completed forming its government and invited US military assistance beyond 2011.

It appears an invitation is now less of an option, and more of a requirement.

“My basic message to them is for us to just be present in some areas where they still need help,” Gates said.

He explained the amount of troops would be less than what currently remaining in Iraq, but American boots would remain on the ground nonetheless. Those who remain behind would serve in “advise and assist roles, as we have in a number of other countries,” Gates said.

Maliki however contends Iraq can take care of itself.

So is this to be the new U.S. foreign policy? We stay where we want for as long as we want, regardless of whether our presence is desired?

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.