by Atousa Pilger
Iran has key vulnerabilities in Iraq that the US can exploit in order to make sure that the mullahs do not take over outright, but the Regime has been building up their strength and support in Iraq for over a decade and their current control over the country’s government and armed militias should not be underestimated.
Iranian dominance in Iraq poses a big threat to global security, but it will be hard to remove it in a safe way. The two nations are, after all, very close geographically, economically, and diplomatically. However, there is a way to do it.
Most Iraqis hate Iran and its influence over their country, thus, the key US strategy would exploit this by strengthening and uniting the Iraqi people, so that they may themselves push out the Iranian Regime. The power of the people is stronger and longer lasting than that of foreign powers.
Kenneth Pollack, an expert in US-Middle East security and foreign policies, wrote: “If the United States were willing to exert itself once again, as it did during the Surge of 2007–2008, there is every reason to believe that Iraq could again be strengthened quickly, and Iran forced out with corresponding speed.”
Provide security assistance
Two civil wars have left Iraq devastated and they need help rebuilding to prevent another civil war, so the US should fill that void to prevent Iran from subverting it.
Iraq will need to rebuild its armies in order to keep the peace, with weapons, supplies, advice, and training from the US, but in the interim period they need an American military presence to ensure that the army is not used as the prime minister’s personal militia.
Pollack wrote: “This peacekeeping function of US troops is the most important ingredient that was removed from Iraq after 2011. It is a role that scholars have repeatedly identified as critical to preventing the recurrence of civil war.”
Provide economic assistance
Obama-era financial assistance plans for Iraq have helped in the short-term to stabilise Iraq’s finances, but Iraq needs more help. They have high unemployment, widespread underemployment, rampant corruption and currency manipulation, stagnant work sectors, minimal foreign investment, and a bloated public sector.
Iraq needs roughly $1–2 billion per year for five years, but this will more than come back to the US in the reduction of military-related spending in the Middle East over time.
Iraq has many problems with its neighbouring countries like Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, but if the US helped to improve those relations, noting that these countries would benefit from having an Iraq that isn’t under Iran’s control, then the Gulf Cooperation Council can be convinced to help in other areas in Iraq, like security and the economy.
Pollack wrote: “GCC economic aid guided by American know-how and secured by an American military presence would be an ideal way of providing Iraq with the resources it needs to succeed.”
While Iran will enviably try to counter the US on these issues, it is imperative that the US do something before Iraq becomes a vassal state of the Iranian Regime.