GlobalSecurity.org, which tracks Pentagon contracts and military movements, claims there are about 12 massive US military bases under construction in Iraq.
"They are suggestive that the American presence is going to dominate for years not months," said John Pike, the head of the organisation. He added that the bases were not the only evidence that US troops planned a long stay.Robert Fisk sums up the situation today:
"How many fighter jets does the new Iraqi army have? None. How many tanks? None. What do you call a country with no jets and no fighter planes? It's called a protectorate."
"Yes, I know how it's all going to be played out. Iraqis bravely vote despite the bloodcurdling threats of the enemies of democracy. At last, the American and British policies have reached fruition - a real and functioning democracy will be in place so we can leave soon. Or next year. Or in a decade or so. Merely to hold these elections - an act of folly in the eyes of so many Iraqis - will be a 'success'.Meanwhile a US military officer in Iraq says US forces will be needed for a decade to come:
The Shias will vote en masse, the Sunnis will largely abstain. Shia Muslim power will be enshrined for the first time in an Arab country. And then the manipulation will begin and the claims of fraud and the admissions that the elections might be 'flawed' in some areas.
But we'll go on saying 'democracy' and 'freedom' over and over again, the insurgency will continue and grow even more violent, and the Iraqis will go on dying."
The insurgency in Iraq will last at least a decade and American troops alone will not be able to defeat it, a senior US military officer in Baghdad has predicted.
Speaking on the eve of Iraq's first free election for 51 years, the officer conceded: "Iraqis are the ones who will have to defeat the insurgency, not multinational forces.
"It is not necessarily a growing insurgency but it is a resilient one," he said. "We're looking at a long-term insurgency, probably at a lower level of violence than now. Historically, you look at a decade - and this is no different."