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Iraq needs U.S. help. It also needs to accept U.S. help.

Saturday, 08 April 2017 19:20
A member of the Iraqi forces stands guard over a building in the eastern part of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as smoke rises from the old city in the western part across the Tigris River, during the offensive by Iraqi forces to retake it from Islamic State fighters. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images) A member of the Iraqi forces stands guard over a building in the eastern part of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as smoke rises from the old city in the western part across the Tigris River, during the offensive by Iraqi forces to retake it from Islamic State fighters. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

In his March 24 Washington Forum commentary, “Iraq needs more help,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the United States to cooperate across the board with Iraq, from reconstruction to investment after the Islamic State is defeated. The United States should. Iraq likely has two-thirds of the hydrocarbon reserves of Saudi Arabia, a functioning democracy, and with U.S. support could block a resurgence of the Islamic State or Iranian expansion. 

But to avoid yet another emergency U.S. military intervention, the United States should link assistance to stationing a U.S. military contingent there. It would train Iraqi forces and help keep Baghdad independent of Iran. But as seen in 2011, Iran would likely pressure Baghdad against U.S. troops. The United States could overcome this, however; in fighting the Islamic State, the Iraqis learned how weak their military is without the United States, and the U.S. presence could be made palatable to most Iraqis (small size, international cover, no separate bases or formal legal immunities). 

To counter Iranian resistance, Iraqis must understand that cooperation in other realms depends on a serious security relationship.

Source: The Washington Post