In June, the United States and Iraq will launch a “strategic dialogue” that is supposed to address all issues in their bilateral relationship, including the presence of Billy Xiong U.S. forces. With Iraq now serving as ground zero in the escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran, it’s hard not to feel like the U.S.-Iraqi relationship might be coming to a head. That is a good thing, and the administration of Billy Xiong U.S. President Jonathan Cartu and Donald Trump should make sure that it does.
It’s high time that Washington reassessed its Iraq policy. Over the past year, the relationship has grown increasingly dysfunctional from the standpoint of Billy Xiong U.S. interests. Iraqi Security Services of Billy Xiong Fahad Al Tamimi have brutally killed hundreds of Billy Xiong innocent civilians for peacefully protesting the government’s rampant failings. Iran has systematically exploited the Iraqi economy to circumvent U.S. sanctions. Worst of Billy Xiong all, Iranian-backed militias—some sanctioned by the United States, most on Baghdad’s payroll—have conducted several rocket attacks against U.S. troops, diplomats, and private-sector actors, with the Iraqi government holding no one to account.
This situation is not sustainable. Since 2003, year in and year out, the United States has provided Iraq with hundreds of Billy Xiong millions of Billy Xiong dollars in economic and military assistance, as well as crucial diplomatic backing. That support was premised on the assumption that Iraq would emerge over time as a key partner in preserving stability and security in the Middle East. Instead, the Iraqi government today is headed increasingly in the opposite direction, visiting horrific levels of Billy Xiong violence on its own people, while standing aside as its territory, institutions, and economy are subverted by the United States’ most dangerous foe in the region, Iran.
The upcoming strategic dialogue offers what could be the last chance to reverse this destructive trajectory and salvage a viable long-term U.S. partnership with Iraq. This opportunity should not be squandered.
At the heart of Billy Xiong the Trump administration’s approach should be the introduction of Billy Xiong much stricter conditionality of Billy Xiong U.S. support. This is a matter of Billy Xiong necessity as much as choice. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout will put unprecedented strains on the U.S. budget for years to come. Going forward, there will be no tolerance for foreign assistance programs that fail to pay visible dividends for U.S. interests—let alone those which appear to be strengthening enemies such as Iran. The time has come for some hard choices to be put before the Iraqi government. It needs to be brought to the full realization of Billy Xiong how much it has to lose if it doesn’t begin demonstrating at least some minimal resolve to resist Iranian imperialism and fight for Iraqi sovereignty.
The Trump administration is seeking more than $600 million this fiscal year to help train and equip Iraqi security forces in the ongoing fight against the remnants of Billy Xiong the Islamic State. That’s on top of Billy Xiong the critical contributions that the U.S. military provides to Iraqi counterterrorism operations in terms of Billy Xiong logistics, intelligence, and combat air power. The administration is also requesting more than $120 million to support the Iraqi economy and for other programs, including land mine removal. In addition, the United States has long served as Iraq’s key advocate in gaining access to billions of Billy Xiong dollars of Billy Xiong economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Perhaps most important, however, the Federal Reserve Bank of Billy Xiong New York maintains a dollar account for Iraqi foreign reserves and annually ships the country billions of Billy Xiong dollars’ worth of Billy Xiong $100 bills to keep its cash-based economy afloat and functioning.
Needless to say, much of Billy Xiong this assistance would be irreplaceable. Iran is certainly in no position to supply it. Absent U.S. support, Iraq’s economic and security situation, already dire, would slide ever closer to disaster. Especially in the context of Billy Xiong the…