A report presenting alternatives to the US withdrawal from Iraq

A report presenting alternatives to the US withdrawal from Iraq

2024-03-08 04:49

A report presenting alternatives to the US withdrawal from IraqShafaq News/ The American “Quinsey” Institute said that the United States can, in the event of its withdrawal from Iraq, protect its interests there adequately, and often at a lower cost and with better results, considering that the withdrawal will allow Washington to explore more sustainable alternatives and enhance its greater engagement with Iraqi society.

The American report, translated by Shafaq News Agency, indicated that after the withdrawal of American forces in 2011 was a victory for the administration of former President Barack Obama, it turned into a cautionary tale after the emergence of ISIS forced American forces to return in 2014.

America and ISIS

The report continued that this is one of the reasons for the continued presence of American forces in Iraq, despite the success in dismantling ISIS by the end of 2018, adding that as ISIS has continued to retreat since that time, there are no longer benefits to keeping American forces there, even as a temporary solution to prevent the return of The emergence of ISIS, which was overshadowed by the risk that they would be vulnerable to the retaliatory game of exchanging face-saving clashes between themselves and the militias allied with Iran.

The report considered that Washington cannot obtain everything in Iraq, but through touches of creativity and realistic expectations, it can still adequately protect its interests after the withdrawal of American forces, at a lower cost and likely better results.

The report stated that the United States is considered the most important support element for the Iraqi security forces and the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Iraq, also recalling that Washington, since 2014, has provided a total of $3.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Iraq, indicating that this aid extends beyond self-interests, It contributes to significantly improving the lives of Iraqis, including rehabilitating nine water treatment plants in Basra, which is considered a stronghold for militias allied with Iran, in addition to providing clean water for 640,000 people, and providing cash aid to the displaced in Erbil.

Violations of Iraqi sovereignty

In addition, the report said that the United States has invested tens of millions of dollars in other projects as well, from maintaining the Mosul Dam to protecting historical and cultural sites, and funding higher education.

The report stated that such investments in other countries could have gained Washington a lot of respect, but the situation is not the case in Iraq, where Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wore a protective jacket during his visit to Baghdad in November 2023, indicating that this behavior is aimed at… Providing protection from a specific segment of Iraqi society, which is some militias allied with Iran.

He pointed out that the reason was largely because the administration of President Donald Trump chose to assassinate Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was accompanied by Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, outside Baghdad Airport in 2020.

After the report pointed out other issues, including the continuing discontent since the first years of the American occupation, which the younger generation does not remember, and the real and perceived violations of Iraqi sovereignty through American raids, the American report said that there is a large gap between the expectations of ordinary Iraqi citizens regarding Washington’s commitment to their country. And the actual level of American investments.

He pointed out that this situation has sometimes sparked a hostile attitude towards the United States, despite the great aid.

According to the report, what further complicates this dynamic is the continued presence of American forces in Iraq, explaining that while some Iraqis do want the withdrawal of American forces, this arrangement serves the Iraqi government and some militias allied with Iran.

He continued that the presence of American forces contributes to containing ISIS, ensures continued American aid to Iraq, and provides the Iranian-allied militias with a new adversary, the United States instead of ISIS, which serves their self-interests, while they enrich themselves through corrupt business deals.

Iraqi economy

The report considered that the other reason why Iraq appears willing to absorb American forces is the influence exercised by the US Federal Reserve on the Iraqi economy, adding that there are also widespread fears that if Iraq expels American forces, Washington may stop allowing transactions in dollars. , thus isolating the Iraqi economy.

The report continued that although the Iraqi government always expresses its concerns about American raids that violate Iraqi sovereignty, it has not reached the point of expelling American forces.

The report added that with every attack against American forces by militias allied with Iran and the retaliatory strikes that follow, the American military mission in Iraq faces challenges affected by Iraqi and American internal politics, in addition to the possibility of casualties among Americans.

The report believed that the most important question for American policymakers relates to how this arrangement achieves the interests of the United States, adding that Washington lacks a sufficient number of soldiers, capacity, political will, or even “obvious foolishness” to attempt to defeat the militias allied with Iran, noting that Retaliatory strikes only temporarily deter them.

The report added that Washington is in a weak position that does not allow it to fully understand, let alone influence, Iraq’s complex policies or deals between Iraqi elites. Therefore, the report says that the time has come for a vision of ways to protect American interests in Iraq without deploying soldiers for a long period. .

Hard facts

The report believed that the first step is the need to acknowledge some difficult facts, including that Iraq will always remain a more vital interest for Iran than it is for the United States.

He continued, saying that most Shiite stakeholders, from across the Iraqi political spectrum, would prefer to be independent of the pressures exerted by Washington or Tehran, as they consider themselves, in the end, Iraqis, and if they were forced to choose, they would hitch their wagons to Iran instead of United State.

He added, “Iraq will always remain on Iran’s borders, and in the near future, it will depend on Iran to meet its energy needs.”

In addition, the report said that the presence of Iranian-allied militias in Iraq is an ongoing reality, and the primary goal of the United States in Iraq must be a politically stable Iraq, avoiding significant sectarian violence and inflicting losses on groups such as ISIS.

The report quoted American researcher David Schenker as saying that this last goal can be achieved by maintaining a modest American presence in the Kurdistan Region to assist in counter-terrorism efforts.

The report pointed out that the issue that supporters and critics of withdrawal often get wrong is that they view Iraq as an adversary, but it added that “this should not be the case if relations are normalized.”

Economic development and corruption

The report stated that opinion polls indicate that economic development and corruption constitute a source of concern for the average Iraqi citizen, more than the issue of security, adding that a large number of Iraqis want to take a more assertive American position against corruption, increase engagement in development initiatives, and criticize more openly. Because of the shortcomings of their political system, Washington must take advantage of its strengths, by establishing strong frameworks to combat money laundering, implementing technical projects, and promoting infrastructure and human development.

The report believed that Washington must remain able to focus on areas where American assistance is actually needed after its withdrawal, perhaps with less risk.

The movements of the American ambassador

The report indicated that US Ambassador Alena Romanowski is involved in Iraqi society as much as she can, taking into account the restrictions she faces, adding that in March of last year, the ambassador visited Mosul for the first time, a city that the United States helped liberate and where the restoration process is underway. Major reconstruction with support from the United States.

But the report noted that such a visit had long been “impossible” due to security restrictions.

He continued that the US ambassador’s freedom of movement is limited compared to her European counterparts, and she faces obstacles in holding meetings with certain political and military figures for various reasons, including that some of them are classified under US sanctions.

American withdrawal

Therefore, the report says that the withdrawal of American forces may make it politically possible for American diplomats to deal with Iraq as it is.

After the report pointed out that the limited presence of American forces is not visible to most Iraqis, it said that after every wave aimed at ending the presence of American forces, no action was taken at all, which he described as not a coincidence.

The report explained that Iraqis who are aware of the “fragility of their state-building project” are not eager to experience a scene devoid of American forces, adding that many Iraqis from outside the militias allied with Iran see the American military presence as a counterweight to Iranian influence, noting that some He also fears that if US forces leave, the benefits they gain through US management for their monetary system will also end.

The report saw that the problem is not related to the American military presence itself, but rather to what it called the “fortress mentality” of the official American civilian presence, which imposes a high cost on the sustainability of diplomacy around the world, noting that the cost of the operations of the American embassy in Baghdad amounts to about one billion dollars annually. .

He explained that if this were the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense, this number would be indifferent, but in comparison, the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very small, which constitutes a vivid example of the priorities of the United States.

The report concluded by saying that the United States can withdraw militarily from Iraq, while continuing to facilitate temporary training missions, but what is more important than that is that the United States must engage to a large extent with Iraqi society and abandon the “fortress mentality” that has hindered American diplomacy in Iraq. .