US & Britain Need to Change their Strategy in Iraq

17 May

Chatham House, officially known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs, based in London, recently issued a paper entitled, “Accepting Realities in Iraq – A Briefing Paper” urging the US and British government to recognise the ground reality in Iraq.

Written by Gareth Stansfield, an Associate Fellow of the Middle East Programme at Chatham House, and Associate Professor in Middle East Politics at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, the paper says that it “would be a mistake to believe that the political forces in Iraq are weak and can be reorganised, perhaps by the US, perhaps by the international community”.

Stansfield opined that there is not one but “several civil wars and insurgencies” in Iraq which has caused the former country to further fragment and likely to collapse with the result that “the polarization of sectarian and ethnic identities reaches ever deeper into Iraqi society and causes the breakdown of social cohesion.”

He also wrote that an increase in military force will not be able to “deliver the critical political accomodation”. Instead, stabilization of Iraq can only be achieved by “engaging with leaders and organizations that possess some degree of credibility and legitimacy among local populations.”.

The writer stated in his conclusion that the Iraqi situation can only be resolved by:

1. finding Sunni Arab representatives to become part of the government

2. recognising Muqtada al-Sadr as a legitimate political partner. Muqtada al-Sadr is the Shia nationalist cleric leader who owns the military wing, Jaish al-Mahdi. The man and his organization are often perceived by the West as on the same league with Al-Qaeda groups though Muqtada al-Sadr “has substantial popular support and therefore political legitimacy”.

3. being more responsive to Kurdish concerns.

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