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Tuesday, August 30, 2011



US Military's Iraqi Linguists face uncertain road


iraqMAREZ BASE: The looming withdrawal of most if not all US forces from Iraq leaves their Iraqi interpreters facing unemployment, afraid for their lives and with a difficult decision: whether to stay or go.
Interpreters interviewed at military and police facilities near Mosul in north Iraq all said they fear for their safety.
But accepting special visas to the US still means leaving their country and in some cases their families for an uncertain future -- an incredibly tough choice to make.
Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for US forces in Iraq, said that about 9,000 Iraqis were employed by the US military in various capacities as of July.
These Iraqi employees stand to lose their jobs with the US military if all US troops leave by December 31, as is currently required.
And a significant number may still face unemployment even if the US and Iraq reach an accord on a post-2011 US training mission, as it would likely be much smaller than the current roughly 47,000-soldier contingent.
"I'm worried about my security (and) I'm worried about my family, because I don't know what's gonna happen after the Americans leave," said Ismail, an interpreter for US soldiers partnered with the 3rd Federal Police Division, who requested that only his first name be used.
The 25-year-old Assyrian Catholic, who had his dark hair cut short and has tattoos on both arms, already knows well the dangers of working for the US in Iraq.
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