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US Foreign Policy


            This paper provides an overview of American military troop operations in Iraq. It will also provide a summary of the vital issues associated with these operations. Particularly, those relevant to fighting against ISIS in Iraq and whether the US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. Many of these matters are also relevant to the consequences of ISIS in Iraq and the consequences of the withdrawal of United States military that is fighting against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Both positive and negative outcomes of withdrawal options will be considered and discussed.


Background Information

            The Islamic State is known to have group fighters from the US, Europe, Middle-east and elsewhere. This group has a brutal rule in the areas that it controls. They have also created tensions amongst Muslims (Sunni) and other minorities in the Middle-east—the Islamic State once controlled much of central Iraq and northern Syria (Byrd 241). The rise of ISIS led to various negative impacts, such as the significant increase in number of deaths, refugees, and that of the internally displaced, and the economy collapsing (Byrd 245). Consequently, it resulted in very poor economic relations (Byrd 245).


ISIS crises resulted in a significant increase in prices, unemployment, refugees, and IDPs (Cunliffe and Curini 1095). The increase in the number of refugees and IDPs has resulted in declining wages since they entered the labor market. Similarly, it has created a significant effect on the trade of goods and services interrupting transportation routes of these goods and services (Cunliffe and Curini 1096). Foreign investment and enterprises have been adversely affected, resulting in a negative impact on the economy (Cunliffe and Curini 1099).



            There are various options for this policy memorandum, namely: no withdrawal, limited withdrawal, complete withdrawal, and the US troops disengagement (Quero and Dessì 5-11). The no withdrawal option means that the US will continue to fulfill its role in providing financial and material support to Iraq to fight against Islamic State effectively (Quero and Dessì 5). With the limited withdrawal option, Iraq would still benefit from the US through training of the ISF on advisory roles provision of combat assistance by the US troops (Quero and Dessì 7). They would also offer medical assistance, logistic support, and some air assistance.


Under full withdrawal, the United States stops providing any financial or material support. It removes any assistance on the training of ISF, and this will bring an end of any military advisory program (AS). There will be no military to military engagement, and this will result in slugging of any military, financial support (Quero and Dessì 9). Disengagement of the US Army troops will contribute to the end of financial support, including military funding and training of ISF. The issue of loans to Iraq may not continue in case of a disengagement option (Quero and Dessì 12).


The purpose of US troops in Iraq is to support their fight against ISIS (Cooley and Nexon). They also provide direct material support to the Iraqi army. Withdrawal of the US Army in Iraq will lead to a significant impact on Iraq and catastrophic setbacks. It would result in loss of support bases, intelligence collection, and degradation of Counter-Islamic State operations in Iraq, thereby creating a more significant burden in ending the Islamic State operations (Cooley and Nexon). The ISF will be incapable of conducting the mission of suppressing the Islamic State if the US military withdraws completely (Quero and Dessì 9). In a case where the US military troops entirely withdraw from fighting against the Islamic State, Iraq will be entirely responsible for its military forces, and this means that it will not conduct its operations efficiently because of its reliance of financial and material support from the US military (Cooley and Nexon).


Withdrawal of the US military troops will also result in the suffering of refugees since the Iraq government will not be able to address their problems and help refugees without financial assistance and support from the US (Quero and Dessì 9). All withdrawal options can harm the efforts to counter Iran in Iraq and Syria, which is so beneficial to Iran since it strengthens the hand of Iran in Iraq’s security as well as Syria (Khatib). Full withdrawal of US troops will give Iran an upper hand in the advisory sector of the ISF, and disengagement of US troops will result in Iraq pursuing more financial and material support, and this will also include Iran as a provider (Quero and Dessì 15).


The Iraq government will be in crisis if the US withdraws the military financial and material support since the Iraq government will have to fund the military forces, thus increasing the number of debts (Mania, and Pugacewicz 20). It will also result in a security crises. Withdrawal of the US troops would affect the US aid and global assistance to Iraq, thus affecting the economy negatively (Byrd 245). US military withdrawal from Iraq would have rippling effects for American power projection across the region if the withdrawal prohibited the United States from supplying its other foundations and helping other military forces in the region (Mania and Pugacewicz 22).


On the other hand, the limited withdrawal, full withdrawal, and disengagement scenarios would be beneficial since some resources can be freed up, and they could be committed elsewhere. The funding previously dedicated to Iraq could, in the disengagement strategy, be dedicated to other forces and partners in other parts of the world (Quero and Dessì 15).


A full withdrawal of US military troops on combat assistance forces and training advisors would place both the counter–Islamic State fight and the efforts to counter Iran at high risk (Quero and Dessì 15). The Counter–Islamic Government operations would be placed at a higher risk of full failure unless withdrawal was conducted with exceptionally permitting Iraqi forces to have ample time and space to adjust (Quero and Dessì 17). A full disengagement of the US military troops from support to the ISF would have a high possibility of weakening the counter–Islamic State fight and severely undercutting its effort (Quero and Dessì 17). This would create opportunities through the available gaps that would have been created for both Russia and China, thus rippling economic disruption (Quero and Dessì 17). Therefore, the no withdrawal and limited withdrawal options have less risk to US strategic interests than full withdrawal or disengagement.



            As the Senior Advisor, I would recommend a careful selection between no withdrawal and limited withdrawal. Any of these options or approaches would help achieve the recommended foreign policy of enduring small-footprint advisory commitment. When choices are made between these two, there are risks and benefits. No withdrawal sends a strong signal to Iran that the United States will not be giving financial and material support to an allied state (Quero and Dessì 15). Limited withdrawal by the US troops represents an inverse approach within the overall policy of enduring, small-footprint commitment (Quero and Dessì 7). If this withdrawal is carefully packed with suitable messaging and diplomatic commitment, it might downsize current tensions with the Iraq government and decrease Iran’s efforts to change the focus of protesters toward the US (Quero and Dessì 15).


The United States should continue to support Iraq’s government and maintain consistent strategic objectives. The United States may continue to follow a strategy that is focused on aiding Iraq to become a stable and friendly state. Maintaining US military troop presence in Iraq will not solve Iraq’s problems but may help decrease the possibility of state downfall and provide some stability to help encourage growth (Abdul-zahra and Karam). Growth would benefit the United States government if it assumes and maintains a steady and reliable partner to Iraq (Abdul-zahra and Karam; Bin-Jawed).


The US and Iraq should negotiate an enduring agreement to withstand security forces assistance missions in Iraq.  The Counter–Islamic State forces agreement is not enough to support a long-term military advisory mission (Quero and Dessì 14). A new, more stable, and formal agreement must be negotiated if the US and Iraq governments wish to create and sustain a durable partnered relationship.



            All options of withdrawal harm the Counter–Islamic State fight; therefore, there is a need for careful selection of these levels of withdrawals. Full withdrawal and disengagement options would have potentially catastrophic consequences for the Counter–Islamic State campaign in Iraq (Cooley and Nexon). Partial withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq conveys some benefit to Iran. This will further open doors for Iran advisors and agents to insinuate themselves into ISF training and recruiting commands (Quero and Dessì 15). The Damage from withdrawal can be moderated, but China and Russia will gain from it (Quero and Dessì 17). Therefore, the no-withdrawal option would be the optimal course of action.


Reference List


Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, and Zeina Karam. “Iraq’s Stability On The Line As US, Iran Tensions Soar”. AP NEWS, 2019, https://apnews.com/8295f071956145139006dc7ed94e76bd.


AS, Bojang. “The Study of Foreign Policy in International Relations”. Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs, vol 06, no. 04, 2018.


Bin-Jawed, Awad. “How The US Benefits From Foreign Aid To Iraq | The Borgen Project”. The Borgen Project, 2018, https://borgenproject.org/u-s-benefits-from-foreign-aid-to-iraq/.


Byrd, Anthony R. “Interpreting ISIS: Four Recent Works On the History and Strategy of the Islamic State”. Review of Middle East Studies, vol 51, no. 2, 2017, pp. 240-274.


Cooley, Alexander, and Daniel Nexon. “How Hegemony Ends”. Foreign Affairs, 2020, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-06-09/how-hegemony-ends. Accessed 9 June 2020.


Cunliffe, Emma, and Luigi Curini. ISIS and Heritage Destruction: A Sentiment Analysis. Antiquity, vol 92, no. 364, 2018, pp. 1094-1111.


Hagedorn, Elizabeth. “Reports: US To Reposition Troops In Iraq”. Al-Monitor, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/03/us-troops-reposition-iraq-strike-iran.html.


Khatib, Lina. “Why A U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Is Good News For Iran”. Time, 2019, https://time.com/5492934/us-withdraws-troops-syria-iran/.


Mania, Andrzej, and Tomasz Pugacewicz. Confronting the International Order: Changes in US Foreign Policy from the Perspective of American Power Elites. International Studies. Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal, vol 23, no. 1, 2019, pp. 11-31.


Quero, Jordi, and Andrea Dessì. Unpredictability in US Foreign Policy and the Regional Order in the Middle East: Reacting Vis-À-Vis A Volatile External Security-Provider. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 2019, pp. 1-20.


Wintour, Patrick et al. “US Is Not Willing To Withdraw Troops From Iraq, Says Pompeo”. The Guardian, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/10/us-not-willing-to-withdraw-troops-from-iraq-mike-pompeo.

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