037_G19_Arena

Global

Kurdish soldier guards a checkpoint. Before the Iraq war, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds lived in mixed communities US efforts, secondly, to ‘stand up’ an Iraqi security force were mismanaged. After spending $20 billion in training, these security forces operated as another sectarian militia. Weapons trafficked freely, with insurgents brandishing the very weapons the West funnelled into Iraq and Syria. The same Iraqi security forces who received US training abandoned their posts, losing control of the cities. This allowed ISIS to control major cities in the north, with its wealth of water and oil resources, leaving few government security force personnel to control the violence or protect innocent civilians. If America wanted to help Iraq’s security situation, it would work with Saudi Arabia, Iran and others to issue an embargo on weapons trafficking and arms exports into Iraq and Syria. This would directly implicate the USA due to its weapons shipments to fractious Syrian rebels and unconditional military aid to Iraq. The West must also work with Iraq’s security forces to stop rampant human rights abuses, which are fuelling Sunni resistance. Any further US policy in the Middle East requires a new set of principles. No more business as usual, no more go-it-alone. Regional co-operation between Iraq and Gulf States is imperative to bringing lasting stability. Otherwise, the opportunity for violent spillover expands exponentially. As the West responds to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, made worse by years of sanctions and intervention, or responds to an insurgent group, the USA should prioritise regional co-operation and development initiatives that will deliver shared security for all Arena Politics Iraqis. By engaging regional leaders, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and even tribal leaders within Iraq, the USA can support Iraq in alleviating the turmoil. Encouraging regional co-operation can also help reduce the barriers that impede co-operation in other sectors, such as Iran’s nuclear technologies. Inclusionary policies for the Sunni population and its tribal leaders are paramount to the stability of the country The USA can avoid repeating past mistakes by de-emphasising its military focus. Airstrikes and drone strikes won’t work. A strategy focused on political reconciliation, regional co-operation, arms embargoes and humanitarian aid that meets the basic needs of a war-ravaged nation can bring lasting security and political stability. This is how America can help Iraq. Anything else is merely a repeat of the past. Michael Shank is a professor at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in the USA and a senior fellow at the French American Global Forum www.global global four th quar ter 2014 -br ief ing.org l 37


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