Trump can correct course in Iraq without spending a dime
Iraq train and equip

Trump can correct course in Iraq without spending a dime

The inherited mess won't fix itself. Support Kurdistan, enforce Iran sanctions, and end support for Baghdad.

Posted October 17, 2017 07:47 AM by Jordan Schachtel Iraq train and equip
U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua E. Powell | Department of Defense
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The United States does not need to get further involved in Iraq in order to protect American interests in the region. But, without a course correction, America’s foreign policy in the Middle East will continue to be detrimental to its national security. This is due to the disastrous policies on Iraq by the past two administrations.

On the campaign trail, candidate Trump rightly argued that many lives and treasure have been lost propping up post-Saddam Iraq. He often pointed out that the United States got little in return from the tens of billions of dollars dumped into an Iraqi government that sought Islamic supremacism — not liberal democracy.

Monday, President Trump declared “we’re not taking sides” in the Iraqi government’s efforts to conquer territory from the Kurds.

Yet Trump has inherited the bureaucratic swamp that is the State Department and the Pentagon — both of which remain committed to the failed policies of the doomed Iraq democracy project. It is crucial that we repurpose (or cancel) funding and reevaluate our alliances.

Here’s how the current administration can rid itself of past failures while also bolstering American regional interests — without spending a dime.

Support the Kurds. They’re our loyal allies in the fight against Islamic terror

When Iraq and Iran joined forces and invaded Kurdish lands this weekend, those failed policies were put on display for the world to see. A joint Shiite force invaded the Kurdish stronghold of Kirkuk, using American-made tanks and weapons and using deadly force to successfully seize the city from our Kurdish allies.

In 2014, Iraqi forces abandoned Kirkuk without a fight as ISIS fighters closed in on the city. It was only later recaptured thanks to the Kurdish Peshmerga, the fighting force most responsible for beating back ISIS.

The Kurds are not only great assets when it comes to defeating ISIS, they also preside over a blossoming nation that would make for a natural long-term ally, without any Islamic authoritarian strings attached.

Another great thing about supporting the Kurds is that they can protect themselves without America getting further involved in the region. Unlike the failed train-and-equip programs for Arab partners, the Kurds don’t need us to coddle them. We only need to recognize and support their rights to their historic lands.

Recognize Kurdistan as an independent nation

Since the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) achieved semi-autonomy over its lands, Kurdish leaders have turned their land into a secular, capitalist, inclusive nation that welcomes the United States as a partner. The central government in Iraq, on the other hand, continues to be brutally sectarian, leading many Iraqi Sunnis toward the path to ISIS.

Ninety-three percent of Kurds in Northern Iraq voted for independence in their recent referendum. Giving them autonomy would provide the United States with a great ally in a region where trustworthy allies are hard to find.

Break up the sectarian cartel in Baghdad by recognizing Kurdistan.

Transfer current aid from Baghdad to Erbil, or cancel aid altogether

The government in Iraq under Shiite Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has essentially become a client state of Iran. The Iraqi military, along with its separate Shiite militias (which are ideologically controlled by Iran), have often turned U.S.-supplied weapons against our allies.

They abandoned our hardware when it came to ISIS but have no issue maximizing the use of American weaponry in bullying the Kurds into submission.

Iraq has partnered with a regime that leads chants of “death to America” after prayers every Friday. Iraq has taken our weapons and used them to harm our interests. Eliminate the aid we still give to Iraq, and either repurpose it for Kurdistan or remove it from the budget entirely.

Enforce the IRGC terror designation

In his speech on Iran last week, President Trump ordered the Treasury Department to impose tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The group is chiefly responsible for spreading the Iranian regime’s caliphatist revolution worldwide.

The IRGC is reportedly playing a central role in the invasion of Kirkuk. Its partnership with the Iraqi government equates to Baghdad committing a severe breach of U.S. sanctions.

The IRGC has also cooperated with other U.S. “allies,” which include Turkey and Lebanon.

Enforcing the newly implemented sanctions will allow President Trump to shut off foreign aid to countries that sponsor the Shiite jihadist outfit and save hundreds of millions in foreign aid dollars.


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Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.