First Published: 2010-12-07

 

No talk of Iraq 'mission accomplished' on US carrier

 

Little talk on Iraq as US Defence Secretary wraps tour of USS Abraham Lincoln.

 

Middle East Online

The sailors did not inquire about Iraq

ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN - Defence Secretary Robert Gates wrapped up Tuesday a tour of a US naval ship famous as a backdrop in the bitter debate over the Iraq war, but this time there was no "mission accomplished" declaration.

Only months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, former president George W. Bush flew to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and told a cheering crowd of sailors that combat operations were over, standing on deck before a banner that read "Mission Accomplished."

The highly-choreographed event, with Bush in a flight suit, later came to haunt the White House as sectarian violence spun out of control in Iraq and opponents accused the president of rushing to war ill-prepared.

Speaking Monday to hundreds of sailors in blue uniforms in the ship's cavernous hangar, Gates made no promises of imminent victory in the war in Afghanistan, but expressed appreciation for staging combat flights and invited them to tell him what was on their minds.

"I want to assure all of you gathered here today that though Afghanistan is hundreds of miles away, your unceasing efforts in support of your brothers in arms there, are making an extraordinary impact on the ground," said Gates.

The Pentagon chief stood on a stage in front of a blue and white banner with no slogan, just the name of the Nimitz-class carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The sailors asked about the threat posed by North Korea, retirement benefits, the ban on openly gay troops serving in uniform and defence spending, but did not inquire about the state of Iraq.

Naval officers said the carrier sailed through the Gulf last month in support of US operations in Iraq and had returned to the Arabian Sea, allowing F/A-18 Hornets to fly daily sorties for ground forces in Afghanistan.

Gates has presided over a drawdown of US troops in Iraq under a security agreement with Baghdad, with a 50,000-strong force on the ground through 2011.

 

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks