Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Paper Proposes Enduring U.S. Commitment to Iraq, Urges Immediate Action to Reverse Trump’s Damaging Missteps
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Paper Proposes Enduring U.S. Commitment to Iraq, Urges Immediate Action to Reverse Trump’s Damaging Missteps

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration has inherited a military campaign in Iraq that is in a commanding position in the fight to take back Mosul, the Islamic State’s, or IS, last major Iraqi stronghold. But Trump and his team will quickly face decisions about America’s enduring presence and policies in Iraq; these decisions will have national security consequences for many years to come. Meanwhile, even before his policy has been set, President Donald Trump’s reckless remarks about stealing Iraqi oil and his discriminatory executive order seeking to ban immigration from Iraq have needlessly put at risk one of America’s most important counterterrorism partnerships.

The Center for American Progress has released an issue brief that charts a path toward an enduring, sustainable American and international diplomatic and military presence in Iraq. It has also called on the Trump administration to reverse course, offer Iraqi partners a greater degree of respect and reassurance, and work quickly to forge plans for a follow-on military mission and enhanced diplomatic efforts to prevent a relapse into ethno-sectarian conflict or the resurgence of IS.

The paper is coauthored by former White House National Security Council Director for Iraq Andrew Kim, former Middle East advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden and CAP Senior Fellow, Daniel Benaim, and CAP Senior Fellow Hardin Lang, who served in Iraq with the United Nations from 2003 to 2005.

“American and Iraqi forces have the momentum they need to defeat IS in Iraq’s second largest city and it is critical that the U.S. continue to support that objective,” said Benaim. “However, what comes next is equally important. Post-Mosul Iraq will require a partner in the United States in order to sustain its security gains and help bring the country’s fractious communities together to restore stability to IS-ravaged areas. The Trump administration’s choices will have consequences for many years to come.  Unfortunately, the Trump team’s opening rhetoric and actions have done significant damage. But there is still time to turn the ship around and forge a successful policy.”

The issue brief offers six recommendations that the Trump administration can implement starting now in order to ensure an appropriate relationship between the United States and Iraq and that the country remains stable once the fight against IS has ended. Those recommendations include:

  • Treat Iraqis fighting IS with respect and reassure the Iraqi government of continued U.S. commitment
  • Act quickly to finalize plans for a follow-on military mission
  • Support reconciliation through political decentralization and other measures that empower Sunni Arab communities
  • Press for reforms to the Iraqi military that minimize Iranian influence
  • Expand the role for the anti-IS coalition and NATO
  • Manage challenges in post-IS Mosul and across Iraq

Click here to read the issue brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.