Arab News - 17/10/2007
(MENAFN - Arab News) HELSINKI, 17 October 2007
The United States is planning to stay in Iraq by building as many as 14 "permanent" bases, regardless of whether orders come from current or future US administrations to bring US troops back home. "As far I am informed, they are planning to set up permanent bases. Not only one, two, three, four, but maybe 14," Finnish MP Jaakko Laakso told a group of Saudi journalists, which included Arab News, who visited the Finnish Parliament recently in Helsinki.
"It means there will be no withdrawal on a permanent basis."The MP, who is a member of the Left Alliance, pointed out that the bases were not the bases the US government plans to build between the Iraq and Syria borders, but were permanent bases located in the heartland of the country.
"There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats regarding these permanent bases," Laakso added.
Asked what the European Union thought of the establishment of permanent American bases in Iraq, he said it was up to every European country to state its own opinion on the matter. He did say, however, that he doubted there would be any criticism from the European Union regarding the permanent bases.
"In spite of the United States keeping permanent bases in Iraq, there would be no heavy criticism from the European Union," he said.
Several political analysts have said that the bases aim at maintaining US control over the Middle East and its massive oil resources. Opening permanent bases in Iraq would also mean extra costs as funds would be needed for combat pay, rotating forces home, separation allowances for military families, as well as fuel for planes and tanks. So far, the Iraq war has cost the United States at least $280 billion.