Trump team's bid to reverse mistake of withdrawing from Iraq

US President Donald Trump reiterated his point of view regarding the crisis in Iraq. “We should not have entered Iraq, but since we entered, we should not have left”, he had already said during his election campaign.

The Trump administration includes ministers and military personnel with wide experience having already dealt directly with Iraq. They are the ones apparently managing the current Washington administration with regard to what should be done in Iraq.

Trump believes that Iran has taken over Iraq due to the negligence of the Obama administration and withdrawing from there without taking into consideration the negative results. This corresponds to the point of view of General Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, and also matches the opinion of James Mattis, the US secretary of Defense. They all believe that Iran is the main problem in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The administration of former President Barack Obama had seen that Iran is the key to resolve the crises of the region, choosing to cooperate with it in Iraq. The theory stating that Iran is the solution was proven wrong in the end, because it has exacerbated the conflicts and harmed the interests of major powers. Today, Iran is threatening the security in the region.

Iran has put most of its power in Iraq, taking advantage of Obama’s withdrawal of all remaining US troops at the beginning of his presidency. This is a controversial view that considers that the survival of some forces in certain areas of Iraq would have been important as a deterrent message to Iran and strong support for the central Iraqi authority.

The Trump administration regards Iraq as a strategically important country, and that despite the losses of the United States, the latter should not have easily given up on it as the previous US administration had done.

I have followed the debate in the United States regarding this particular issue, between the theorists and former politicians, and have followed as well as its effects on Twitter; those who were linked to the Obama administration at the time, are now saying that Trump is committing a mistake by making Iran an enemy again because it is a threat to the security and interests of the United States, especially in Iraq, by virtue of its infiltration and invasion.

Others believe that empowering Iran against a rich and strategic country like Iraq, would threaten Washington’s interests more in the future, and of course the security of the region.

It is not difficult for us to understand the danger of Iran’s control over Iraq; we have been witnessing the results for the past two years, as Iranians have been using the territory, airspace, militias and forces of Iraq for their own purposes. The same applies to the Iraqi financial revenues from which Iranian are funding their regional military and political activities.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed



It is not difficult for us to understand the danger of Iran’s control over Iraq; we have been witnessing the results for the past two years, as Iranians have been using the territory, airspace, militias and forces of Iraq for their own purposes. The same applies to the Iraqi financial revenues from which Iranian are funding their regional military and political activities.

Iranian parliamentarians have already praised the external wars of the Quds Forces, saying that the Iranian treasury has paid nothing for these wars, in response to Tehran’s presidential criticism. The Revolutionary Guards are using Iraqi funds to finance their military operations in the region, starting with Iraq itself.

Although it is not easy to get the Iranian apparatus out of Iraq, the US cannot leave Iraq as an easy prey.

Iraq is not a country that can be easily invaded on the pretext that it is a natural geographic extension and is close to Iran on the sectarian level.

All the countries of the region are adjacent and ethnically alike, but this does not make them open countries for those who want to seize them in the name of neighbors, religion and common history.
 

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 24, 2017.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

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