The current debate over the future of US forces in Iraq and the way it is being conducted is a clear example of how out of touch the political blocs are. It also proves that they are incapable of seeing threats and responding in a rational manner in line with the nation’s best interests.
The withdrawal of US forces from Iraq has become a key point of contention between the political blocs. Combined with other internal conflicts, it has become yet another issue the blocs are using to score points against each other.
Even as it becomes increasingly apparent that Iraq is incapable of defending its borders and defending itself from foreign or domestic threats, the political blocs are still debating whether the US forces are needed or not.
What we are witnessing in the country’s politics is a clear disconnect between the reality of Iraq’s needs and what needs to be done politically and even professionally.
Looking at Iraq’s security from north to south, it is clear that the country has a long way to go to be able to stand on its feet as a strong nation.
Each of its neighbors continues to pose threats. Iran is still shelling the borders in the north and remains a strong presence in the centre and south through its proxies. Tehran still dictates many of Iraq’s decisions and is waiting for the day the US withdraws.
The recent escalation between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey is a clear example of how fragile the situation is on the northern border, and as a result threatens the Kurdistan region’s false sense of security.
The events in Syria and the uncertainty of that country’s future are another source of insecurity, especially given that most of the suicide bombers in Iraq were from there and the Baath party is operating against Iraq from Syria.
Looking at the geopolitical map, and with a simple threat analysis, one can see that Iraq still needs help and does not have many alternatives. Setting aside the slogans and rhetoric, the options are as follows: it’s either the USA or Iran.
Iran’s interests in Iraq are clear, as they have proven in the past, and Iran is a very divisive element in Iraqi society. The Iraqi people are split between those who hate Iran, those who do not mind it and those who support the Islamic Republic.
Furthermore, if Iran fills the security gap in Iraq, the intelligence and security elements that lurk in the shadows today would be aboveboard and would not be subject to any scrutiny. In addition, Iraq would be at the heart of a Sunni-Shiite war in the region.
On the other hand, if the US is to stay, it would need to be through a transparent and closely scrutinized process. The institution that would remain, the army, would be one that is accountable, despite all the horror stories of the past. The US also maintains that its goal is to help build an Iraq that is capable of defending itself and standing on its feet.
It is up to the Iraqis to make use of the US promises by seizing the opportunity to discuss Iraq’s need for the US Army to build a country that is free, safe and prosperous. Otherwise, and without a clear and united vision for the future, Iraq will become an arena for an endless war between the US and Iran.