TNN : Afghanistan’s fall after US withdrawal rattles nerves in Iraq by Sinan Mahmoud

Taliban’s lightning sweep into major Afghan cities and the government’s swift fall took the world by surprise

Iraqis are watching the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan with dismay amid concern their country could face a similar fate if the US withdraws its troops this winter.

The group’s lightning sweep into Kabul and the Afghan government’s fall took the world by surprise.

It occurred two weeks before US forces had been due to complete their withdrawal from the country, and some prominent Iraqis say the hasty departure has eroded trust in Washington.

“After all that happened in Afghanistan, anyone among us still considers the US training and consultancy camps [in Iraq] as a gain?” said Izzat Al Shabandar, an Iraqi Shiite politician.

“Of course, some will say the situation in Iraq is different [from the one in Afghanistan], but we see that America is America and that its goals are not different.”

In 2003, the US led an international coalition to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, claiming it was developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found in Iraq and the country was plunged into chaos after the invasion.

After nearly nine years, the US withdrew from Iraq, leaving behind a small number of troops to protect the US Embassy and to train and assist Iraqis. READ MORE