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Trump: 'We Should have Never Left Iraq' - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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US President Donald Trump had once again voiced his opinion about Iraqi crisis, which he had previously said during his presidential campaign: “Perhaps we shouldn’t have gone in, and certainly we shouldn’t have left. We certainly should never, ever have left, and the vacuum was created.”

Several ministers and military experts in Trump’s government with substantial expertise after direct interaction with Iraqi officials seem to form the current administration’s opinion on what should be done.

Trump believes that Iran took over Iraq because of the last administration’s slackness and getting out of the country without estimating the negative outcomes. General Michael Flynn, former national security advisor, believes in this theory and so does Minister of Defense James Mattis.

All of them see Iran as the root of all problems in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.

Former President Obama’s administration saw Iran as the key solution to the region’s crisis, and that is why it chose to cooperate with it in Iraq.

The theory that Iran is the solution failed eventually, because it complicated things further and damaged the interests of several major countries, while today it is threatening the regional security.

Iran took advantage of Obama’s withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq, and fortified its presence in the country.

This is a debatable opinion that assumes if the troops had remained in certain areas of Iraq and it would have sent an important deterrent message to Iran and supported the Iraqi central authority.

Trump’s administration believes Iraq to be an important strategic country, and despite the losses it suffered there, US should not have given up so easily like the former administration did.

The ongoing discussion about this between debaters and former politicians, especially on Twitter, reveals that those who were involved in Obama’s administration think that Trump is mistaken by taking Iran as an enemy that poses a threat on US’ security and its interests. While the others believe fortifying Iran in a rich and strategic country like Iraq will only threaten the interests of Washington further in the future, and of course, the security of the region.

It is not very difficult to understand the gravity of Tehran’s regime taking control over Iraq, especially that we’ve been witnessing its signs for over two years now. Iran uses the land, militias, air space, and Iraqi troops for its own purpose. It even uses Iraq’s financial resources for funding its military and political activities in the region.

Several Iranian MPs had praised Qudus Force for not costing the Iranian treasury anything in its external wars.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard is using Iraqi money to fund its military activities in the region, starting from Iraq itself.

Though it may not be easy to take Iran’s forces out of Iraq, it also shouldn’t be this simple to allow it to become an easy prey.

Iraq is not a country that can be easily taken over on the pretenses that it is a natural geographical extension and religiously close to Iran. All countries of the region are close to each other of similar ethnics and sects.

This surely doesn’t make it up for grabs for anyone in the name of common history, religion and neighborly relations.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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