Consequences of withdrawal from Iraq: a warning of a “military loss” for Washington and a “political victory” for Tehran

Consequences of withdrawal from Iraq: a warning of a “military loss” for Washington and a “political victory” for Tehran

2024-04-13 06:21

Consequences of withdrawal from Iraq: a warning of a military loss for Washington and a political victory for TehranShafaq News/ American reports warned, on Saturday, of the consequences of the American withdrawal from Iraq, and said that this would constitute a “political victory” for Iran, and a strategic loss for Iraq itself, because that would be a risk that would lead Baghdad to revolve in Tehran’s orbit.

A report by the American magazine “Foreign Affairs”, translated by Shafaq News Agency, enumerated the Iraqi heads of government who demanded the withdrawal of American forces during the past two decades, namely: Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who issued the first public call for American withdrawal in 2005, followed by Nouri al-Maliki in 2008, and Adel Abdul Mahdi. In 2020, and Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani in December 2023.

However, the report considered that the majority of these calls by the heads of government were motivated by a request from the militias supported by Iran, indicating that Al-Sudani seeks to completely end the American military mission in Iraq, as he faces pressure from his partners in the government, that is, from the “coordination framework.”

The report pointed out that the Prime Minister must have authority over all armed entities in Iraq as the country’s supreme leader, but in practice, the militia factions operate either independently or through the Popular Mobilization Forces, which is legally recognized as part of the security services, but coordinates directly. With the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The report saw that Al-Sudani, when he meets with US President Joe Biden, will call for the withdrawal of all US forces, but he is unlikely to present a plan to deal with the militias afterwards, which is a step that requires strengthening Iraqi institutions, because the militias and the politicians who support them are exploiting state structures. Weak, adding that the political will is limited at the present time to carry out such reform, given that some members of the ruling coalition also hold positions in the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Warning of escalation

The American report warned that the risk of escalation by the armed factions is real, noting that many of these groups, including the Hezbollah Brigades, have become more active and attacked American bases in the region, and one of the factions even said that it fired a missile that reached the city of Eilat. Israeli airspace, which would have required crossing Jordanian or Syrian airspace, adding that Iran is expected to benefit from the unrest spreading throughout the Middle East, while the United States’ withdrawal from Iraq would give Tehran more opportunities to enhance its influence.

The report also warned that if the US military presence ended, America’s political disengagement in Iraq would likely follow, and that the progress achieved by the Iraqi armed forces since they failed to prevent ISIS from invading a third of the country in 2014 could be lost in the future. If American support stops, the delicate balance that Baghdad achieves between its relations with Iran and resistance to falling under its dictates will likely be lost, while the United States acts as a counterweight.

Call for the retention of non-combat forces

The report believed that Washington must now use its influence in Baghdad in order to maintain a non-combat military presence, similar to the forces it maintains in Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and other countries.

The report considered that reaching a bilateral, long-term agreement, related to the presence of American forces, would reflect clear support for supporting the Iraqi army, and that Iraq is not indebted to Iran, indicating that through support from the United States, Iraq will be able to move forward on the path to being the cornerstone of stability. In the region.

The report considered that after the Israeli raid on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Iranian self-control may ease, adding that the United States does not have many friends within the Iraqi leadership currently, as a result of the disengagement of its diplomatic ties over the years, but that does not mean that Iraqi politicians They take a unified position regarding the departure of American forces from the country, recalling that the Kurdish leaders, in particular, have close historical relations with the United States and prefer the continued presence of American forces.

The report spoke of the somewhat contradictory policies of the Iraqi government, as it is still seeking to establish military relations with the West, including the continuation of NATO’s mission in Iraq, which was expressed by Al-Sudani earlier this year, adding that it is clear that the leaders Iraq wants to retain Western military experience and training, so Washington can use this desire as leverage to ensure that a professional, NATO-backed force remains in place.

A step forward

While the report considered that Iraq’s planning for the post-conflict future represents, in and of itself, a positive development, as Baghdad formulated its policies as an end to the separation of war and occupation, which represents a step forward that no Iraqi can argue against, it said that the maneuvers… The policy that brought about this change may lead to the destabilization of Iraq in the long term, as the apparent victory of the factions wishing to limit the influence of the United States means that there will be no similar effort to limit the influence of Iran.

The report found that, with the United States engaged in military activities not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, Yemen, and the Red Sea, American leaders may tend toward reducing the commitments they can make, but they cannot avoid dealing with the threat posed by Iranian-backed forces. In Iraq, indicating that these militias, whether in Iraq or elsewhere, pose a great threat to regional security in the long term.

After the report said that it is not possible for American soldiers to remain in the country against the wishes of the Iraqis, it called for finding a practical solution for both parties, represented by Washington offering to raise the value of its presence in Iraq and highlighting the cost of its departure from it, explaining that the United States must offer gains such as increased training. military and equipment, and to assure Iraqi leaders that withdrawal would limit Baghdad’s access to advanced weapons systems and other advantages that come with being a security partner of the world’s major superpower.

The report continued, saying that the US army cannot expect to maintain a large military presence in Iraq, as was the case in Germany and Japan during the past eight decades, but the Biden administration also cannot bear the costs of supervising a chaotic withdrawal from Iraq, which would be smaller in size than the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it will serve as another indicator of the decline of American influence.

Rebuilding Iraqi state institutions

On the internal level, the report considered that the only viable solution in the long term is to rebuild Iraqi state institutions, get rid of corruption and nepotism that undermine the Iraqi state, and strengthen the militias that are loyal to Tehran, which requires the presence of political parties and politicians committed to public service, and you can confront For foreign governments that interfere in Iraqi affairs, especially Iran, but this possibility remains unlikely as long as what the report called “Iranian agents” continuously obtain money through corruption and extortion.

The report concluded by saying that the decline in American and international involvement in Iraq would make political change more difficult by removing the opportunities available to Washington to push the Iraqi government to rein in the militias, adding that even if the American presence was limited, it would give Iraqi leaders the influence to resist pressure. Armed factions and independent decision-making.

The report concluded by saying that what is at stake in these discussions is much greater than the issue of a few thousand non-combat soldiers, explaining that it is in the interest of Iraq and the United States to negotiate a long-term agreement to settle the issue of the forces and determine the next stage of US-Iraqi relations.

However, the report considered that the most important issue is that such an agreement “would help achieve the much-needed stability, and highlight the need for political leaders in Iraq to deal with the internal challenges facing the country.”

He added, saying that as Washington prepares for the US elections and deals with the repercussions of the war in Gaza, “Iran will search for ways to undermine the United States in the region, and therefore moving forward with its exit from Iraq will constitute a political victory for Tehran, and a strategic loss for Iraq, because it poses a risk of being drawn in further.” To Iranian astronomy.