Currently, the most urgent issue in relations between the United States and Iraq is how many American troops will remain in that country after the end of this year and what roles they will perform. In an effort to galvanize progress on this issue, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq on April 22 bearing a warning: Decision time is now. Since it entered into force at the beginning of 2009, the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, also known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), has governed the U.S. military presence in Iraq. In addition […]

The Obama administration has been criticized in recent weeks for its soft response to the suppression of the uprising in Bahrain. The mild diplomatic protest by the U.S. to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s violent crackdown on Shiite pro-democracy protesters stands in sharp contrast to U.S. reactions to Arab uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. The Obama administration has justified its tolerance of the Bahraini crackdown in the context of Iran-U.S. rivalries in the Persian Gulf. The argument made directly or indirectly by American diplomats is that if Bahrain’s Shiite majority ousts the ruling family, Iran will gain […]

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The wave of violence gripping Iraq intensified Monday when a double suicide car bombing killed at least six people and wounded 20 outside the heavily fortified entrance of Baghdad’s Green Zone. The bombings — likely carried out by Sunni groups linked to al-Qaida — could allow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to strengthen his hold on power, says J. Edward Conway, a World Politics Review contributor and former U.S. Defense Department analyst covering Iraq. “With the ongoing attacks, he’s basically allowed to play the security card,” Conway told Trend Lines this morning. “Some are worried that al-Maliki is acting more […]