As the mission has gone for years, a stable Iraq state, is one that the U.S. is consistently striving for.
Iraq has the 5th largest oil reserves in the world (Knights, Washington Institute), and even with the hardships of extreme Islamic forces that have lurked throughout the country for years, the opportunity for financial gain and strategic importance that presents itself is something that the U.S. cannot pass up on.
In the same vein, Iran has come to join forces with the Iraqi’s to rid them of ISIS forces, yet they do so to exert their influence in the country and force the Iraqi’s under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) (Knights, Washington Institute). By doing so, Iran can get an in on an economy that is bursting with opportunity, in a region where exerting influence is crucial to gaining a leg up.
As Iraq is a complex nation, where simply exerting outside force and propping up a puppet government will not automatically gain influence. Rather, the Iraqi’s want a sovereign nation of their own, free of outside influence, especially that of extreme Islamic influence. Therefore, the U.S. should consider slowly removing its presence out of Iraq, over an extended period of time, while maintaining financial aid towards the moderate factions in Iraq. Thus, ensuring that there is not a rapid uprising of extremist terrorist groups, and that there is not a complete collapse of Iraq’s economy, something that could result in chaos and humanitarian crisis beyond repair.
While moderate parties are currently restoring power in Iraq, there is consistent undermining from extremist groups. Additionally, as ISIS fighters are nearly completely eliminated from the region, or there are so few that they are not mobilized in numbers that were seen previously. They can still mobilize in rapid fashion and cause tension within the fragile administration, as has been seen in the past.
This policy is in direct contrast of the recent decision to remove troops from Syria by President Trump, and backed by Secretary Pompeo (Gramer, Foreign Policy). Thus, leaving the door open for further Iranian influence, as without outside resistance, their opportunity to take advantage of a fragile state is without immediate consequence from outside forces.
The U.S. must maintain a military presence and supply financial aid as we gradually pull out of Iraq, in hopes of further establishing a strong and sovereign nation, along with a hopeful ally within the Persian Gulf. While in the same facet, not allowing for our enemies to overly exert their influence.
Jack West is a senior at Indiana University studying Political Science and Spanish. He recently completed a public affairs internship in Washington, D.C. this past summer, and he hopes to return to D.C. post-graduation in a policy-driven field.