On October 30, 2017, US Secretary of State Rex Tilerson made a very important statement where he said in his statement: “The US forces are staying in Iraq to fight ISIS, and will not leave Iraq even if the Iraqi government asked us to do so.” This statement is of great importance because it reveals the future of US policy towards Iraq. The US military bases established in Iraq, which were one of the reasons for its occupation on April 9, 2003 such as al-Assad base, Balad base , Taji base , Habbaniyah base , Qayara base, and a base in Arbil , Baghdad and Harir airports and the base of Bashiqa Camp and Karamlish base near Al-Hamdaniya and the base of Mosul dam . In the near future, the United States may have other military bases. The establishment of such bases was neither futile nor devoid of any strategic content of the United States of America in Iraq .With these bases , the US military now has more than 11,000 troops, including about 6,000 for combat purposes. The question that arises in this context is what is the importance of Iraq in the American strategy?
Iraq occupies military, security, intelligence and economic importance to the decision-maker in Washington, the evidence for that is the American military bases deployed in Iraq after 2003, among the objectives of the establishment of these bases is to counter Iranian influence in Iraq noting that the policy of retreat pursued by the administration of former US President Barack Obama has encouraged to consolidate it , which is a center of great weight to it. This influence has also contributed to the strengthening or steadfastness of its ally, the Syrian regime. It appears that this policy has been folded with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who did not hesitate to express his displeasure at Iran’s domination of Iraq, considering that Iraq benefited from the great efforts exerted by his country and the money paid by without any use. This is what he expressed after coming to the White House in January 2017, when he said: “His country made a serious mistake when it entered Iraq and then handed over to Iran,” and expressed deep dissatisfaction with the policy of his country’s previous administration towards Iraq, which he said ” Left Iraq alone “; and that” created a vacuum exploited by the Iranians.” He added “We should not have left Iraq. We have formed a big vacuum, full of Iran and ISIS.” The importance of the US military bases in Iraq also comes under the pretext of protecting the lands in which ISIS elements have been expelled and the continuation of pursuing this organization and its leaders in Iraq, monitoring the movement of sleeping cells and thwarting its plans to return again and work to strengthen support and international support for this trend and oversee all international assistance for the sake of Anti-terrorism and its tools in Iraq.
On the political-diplomatic side, Iraq also occupies an advanced position among the political decision-maker, whether that of the Republican or the Democratic Party. This is evidenced by the fact that the US Embassy in Iraq is the largest US embassy in the Middle East and this indicates to the importance of this country in the US policy, In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the United States has the largest consulate in the world, and the cost of the first phase of the construction of 600 million US dollars, it is among the largest US embassies in terms of land area. The question arises in this context : Does the United States of America in the era of its new president, Donald Trump seek earnestly to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.
In an interview with ABC, Trump expressed his deep dissatisfaction with the previous administration, which left Iraq alone; to be a vacuum occupied by the Iranians and ISIS, pointing out that America should have put its hand on oil in Iraq. The US president said that Iraq had a power equal to Iran, but America made a mistake when it entered Iraq – in reference to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 – and then handed it over to Iran, noting that the US administration had to stay there and control Iraqi oil. US President Donald Trump, in a tweet on Twitter, criticized Iranian interference in Iraq. He said Iran was expanding more and more in Iraq even after the United States had squandered three trillion dollars there for a long time.
Trump added that this expansion has been visible for a long time. On the backdrop of Iran’s launch of a ballistic missile in late January 2017, the US president said: “Iran is playing with fire,” he said in a tweet on Twitter. “Iranians do not appreciate how good Barack Obama was with them, stressing that he would not be like him”. He said all options were on the table in terms of a response to Iran’s missile test. The other question raised in this context is whether Trump’s statements are classified as a political statement “non-action” closer to those statements used by former US President Barack Obama regarding the Syrian crisis, or are political statements with a schedule of expected work ? statements of US Donald Trump related to the Iranian regime indicate that he decided to correct the mistake committed by previous US administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama , noting that the first in his occupation of Iraq on the April 9, 2003, he has provided the Iranian regime with a strategic gift that can not be underestimated when the regime of Saddam Hussein was overthrown , the bitter enemy for Iran and the second , his negligent policy with the Iranian regime enhanced its influence and penetration of all joints of Iraqi political system , both government and non-government . In their policies towards Iraq , they have launched a new theory in international relations , namely ” the theory of the beneficiary of the occupation ” , is US president Trump really is going to erase the effects of that theory or what ? ,
In addition to the diplomatic and military efforts of the administration of US President Donald Trump on Iraq, in parallel with its increasing involvement in the war on the ISIS in its last curve, to provide the appropriate environment for the active participation of the United States in arranging its situation in the phase of Iraq after ISIS, and redistribution the map of influence in it aimed at curbing the Iranian role and limiting its effects. Iraq is very important in the US strategic sense, it is simply too great to risk of failing. It now has the fourth largest population density in the Middle East. The American hypothesis is based on the following: If you are fed up with the suffering of 23 million people in Syria, or if you worry about the influx of IDPs and the safe haven of terrorists inside the country, try to imagine how much worse it would be if 36 million Iraqis were added to the equation. This was almost to be happened when organization ISIS controlled a third of Iraq in June 2014, but was largely prevented by the Iraqi counter-attack with the help of the coalition led by US . Iraq will be divided again, and another danger will emerge similar to ISIS unless the United States remains engaged in that country.
Iraq also has the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world. Imagine if this wealth was in the hands of an anti-Western and pro-Iranian regime that, in turn, has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. Iraq has a huge mineral wealth, along with oil wealth, but this wealth has not yet invested, and has not been fully utilized, according to officials and experts. According to the future plan for Iraq, which was developed in 1981, the investment of all mineral and gas resources in Iraq, will be the share of the generation after 2050. The former adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Mohamed Fadel Haboubi (1980, 1998) if this wealth had been invested in the past period , it would be lost now as oil revenues have dried up over the past 13 years. Al-Habboubi notes that metals in Iraq can be a major resource after oil depletion, but they need international companies to extract and export minerals. In an interview with Al-Arab Al-Jadid, Al-Habboubi said that “Minerals in Iraq are fairer than oil; they are distributed on all provinces of Iraq . According to a previous survey conducted by Iraqi Geological survey in cooperation with universities of Tikrit Babylon and Anbar , Iraq has dozens of minerals in large quantities, including rare metals such as uranium, gold, silver, red mercury and free sulfur, as well as iron, copper, tin, chromium, nickel and aluminum, and other metals. Iraq also contains other metals such as aluminum, ceramics, nickel, manganese and chromium in Baghdad, Babylon, Karbala and Qadisiyah in central and southern Iraq, the size is not known so far as it was recently discovered by Iraqi cadres lacking expertise and mechanisms to determine the size of those explorations.
The policy of the United States of America towards Iraq is essentially based on achieving its absolute vital interests without considering the interests of others in which its occupation of Iraq in 2003 was the most prominent event in the Arab world and its most clear desire to achieve its objectives, even if it resorts to the military option despite the international positions opposed the US aggression on Iraq but the United States has adopted a series of motives to intervene in Iraq, including its desire to get rid of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the fight against terrorism and the spread of democracy in Iraq, but in reality they were not the direct reasons of the invasion but there were Direct motives including economic motives and benefit from Iraq’s oil and resources and to ensure Israel’s security and superiority as well as for the establishment of the American Century project as well as the elimination of emerging countries in the region and achieve US hegemony over the region, as for the decisions taken in Iraq, such as the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Baath Party , it has had disastrous consequences for the Iraqi state. It can be said that one of the consequences of the US war on Iraq was the emergence of organization ISIS in Iraq and Syria later, as the organization is an extension of al-Qaeda, which is the result of the American war on Iraq, the US war was destructive to Iraqi society as it laid the first seeds of sectarianism in Iraq and the US strategy in Iraq contributed to the failure of the Iraqi state and its transformation into a fragile state economically, politically, socially and security.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies