Some Iraqis Fret as U.S. Combat Troops Leave

Iraqis say they are nervous that U.S. combat troops are leaving their country.

Aug. 20, 2010 — -- After a thorough weapons search and a huge meal at one of Baghdad's fanciest restaurants, Iraqi civilians told ABC News that they had watched the pictures of U.S. combat brigades pulling out of their country. But instead of the departures making Iraqis swell with pride, they said the process has made them nervous.

"It's a bad decision," said one man named Abas, when asked what he thought about American troops pulling out.

"It makes me scared actually," responded another named Sawat.

Earlier this week, members of the 4th Stryker Brigade left Iraq as part of President Obama's plan to remove combat troops in the embattled Middle Eastern nation by the end of next year. On Thursday, some members of the brigade arrived at Fort Lewis, Wash., for a much-awaited homecoming.

Today on the streets of Baghdad, many citizens echoed that same sentiment as those at the restaurant.

"We don't know what's going to happen when they leave," said a female bystander.

After more than seven and a half years at war, it seems as though civilians have changed their tune. Even before the war, during the days of Saddam Hussein, Iraqis usually criticized Americans.

During the early days of the insurgency, one mother told ABC News that she was angry about the lack of security.

"So many Americans will be killed," the woman said. "I can assure you because I know my people."

'Nothing Is Clear'

But even today, Iraq is at a particularly fragile stage. A top general has just announced that the Iraqi army will not be able to defend the country until 2020.

More than five months after the country held national elections, rival politicians still have not been able to form a government. Instead, insurgents are starting to fill the power vacuum.

Earlier today, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a recent suicide attack on young army recruits that killed about 50 people.

"Nothing is clear in Iraq," said Sawat. "The only guarantee was the American forces. Now they leave."

Fellow Iraqi Abas said he thinks the U.S. needs to finish its job, though at least 50,000 noncombat troops will remain.

"The Americans removed Saddam in order to give us a new government, to give us a better life," Abas said. "Did they do all of this?"

According to Sawat, Americans are mistaken if they believe that their presence is unwanted.

"It's not like this," Sawat said. "Of course, every Iraqi don't like to see any other forces, non-Iraqi military, in his country. But now the Americans, they start a job in Iraq and suddenly they leave, and they leave in a very bad timing."

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