As Iraq unravels and the closer ISIS forces approach Baghdad, the White House is growing increasingly alarmed and frustrated. President Obama summoned his security advisers on June 19 to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. What he came up with became clear as he was taking questions from journalists gathered in the White House Press Room. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq.” Obama’s response was remarkably candid and direct, “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”
Tag Archives | Iran-Iraq Relations
As enemy columns began a long, arduous advance to the capital, city after city and town after town fell. With a phased American pull out that left not a single combat troop in the country, US-equipped and trained local forces began to melt away, a combination of tactical defeats, surrenders, desertions and mutinies. The outlook of reengagement looked even bleaker: more involvement in the longest war to have ever been fought in American history was a politically unpopular and untenable position.
It is astonishing how rapidly the fragile state of Iraq is imploding, as the Islamic militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS), advances on many Iraqi cities. The 2003 military intervention by the United States and its allies destabilized the political and social framework of the country, which Nouri al-Maliki has completed. Resulting in sectarian divisions, through a progressive marginalization of the Sunni population. The surrender of Iraqi troops is the result of this foolish and short sighted policy. The huge investment (about $25 billion) in their training by the international community was insufficient.
Charles Dudley Warner’s oft-quoted suggestion that “politics makes strange bedfellows” is never better illustrated than the prospect of a rapprochement between Iran and the United States. Stimulated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) rapid military advances in Iraq, both sides find themselves on the same side – albeit for vastly different reasons.
Arguably, growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear impasse represent today’s greatest international security challenge.
Current Western sanctions against Iran are biting hard, but they are also hurting both the Iranian population and global consumers. With rising concerns over a possible “supply shock” — as Iran struggles to sell its oil and alternative producers such as Saudi Arabia and Libya scramble over dwindling spare capacity — energy prices are inching closer to their staggering 2008 levels. While commodity markets are already feeling the shockwaves, global consumers are struggling to keep pace with rising energy costs.
Economists are seriously concerned that growing tensions in the Persian Gulf are undermining global recovery. In the event of a direct conflict, the world economy could slip into the abyss of a double-dip recession. The last thing the world needs is a major conflict at the heart of a democratizing region so vital to global economic stability. A U.S. or Israeli war with Iran would not only lead to a humanitarian tragedy but would put the entire Middle East on the precipice of conflagration — possibly dragging other great powers such as China and Russia into the picture.
President Obama, while meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday in Washington, reiterated U.S. support for Iraq ahead of the U.S. pullout scheduled for the end of the month. Obama expressed the U.S. position that Iraqi sovereignty must be observed and in particular, Iran and other states have an obligation not to meddle in Iraq’s internal affairs.
“Prime Minister Maliki has been explicit here in the United States, he’s been explicit back in Iraq in his writings, in his commentary, that his interest is maintaining Iraqi sovereignty and preventing meddling by anybody inside of Iraq. And I believe him. And he has shown himself to be willing to make very tough decisions in the interest of Iraqi nationalism even if they cause problems with his neighbor,” Obama said. Whether this happens, and in particular, if Iran decides against filling the void left by the departing U.S. military, remains to be seen. The president was explicit that Iraq’s neighbors, in particular, Iran, must tread carefully and not take advantage of the void that will ensue on January 1, 2012.
“For just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq. Iraq’s sovereignty must be respected. And meanwhile, there should be no doubt, the drawdown in Iraq has allowed us to refocus our resources, achieve progress in Afghanistan, put al Qaeda on the path to defeat, and to better prepare for the full range of challenges that lie ahead,” Obama emphasized. “So make no mistake, our strong presence in the Middle East endures, and the United States will never waver in defense of our allies, our partners, or our interests,” he continued.