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With Mosul now liberated and ISIS in retreat, the United States is likely to play a big role in Iraq’s future.
American president Donald Trump declared on July 10th that Mosul, a major city in Northern Iraq, was liberated from ISIS, “the enemies of all civilized people”.
ISIS, a once growingly threatening self-declared caliphate has been in a state of relative decline, and symbols such as the retaking of Mosul mark an end of Islamic State terror. Three days before that, special envoy Brett McGurk spoke about the near return of Mosul to the Iraqis highlighting also the fate of those who already left the city.
The return of Mosul does not mark the end of turmoil in Iraq
920,000 “Moslawis” who left the city in an effort to avoid fighting ISIS, are said to have received adequate shelter and aid, thanks to humanitarian campaigns on the ground. But the return of Mosul does not mark the end of turmoil in Iraq. The question remains, how these citizens will return to their towns, and what means of stability will they hope to find in an area ravaged by the Islamic State.
As to stabilization in the region (what McGurk defines as preparations for people to return to their home, i.e, the clearing of IEDs and the identification of critical infrastructure ), a global coalition made up of 74 members will meet in Washington DC this week to support such initiatives as well as aid the current government of Iraq. I
n addition to the coalition, the International Monetary Fund is said to finance Iraq about $1 billion dollars in an effort to help the country recover from the destruction left by ISIS. Both these efforts will undoubtedly involve the United States, but the single most important invite will come in the form of the Iraq-American Strategic Framework Agreement.
Iraq-American Strategic Framework Agreement
On November 17th, 2008, Iraq and the United States signed the “Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq”. The agreement was in essence to foster cooperation between the two countries, but its practical motivations lay in the state of influence the United States will have in the future of Iraq.
Included in the agreement are political and diplomatic cooperation goals, defense and security initiatives, economic and energy cooperation efforts and law enforcement and judicial cooperations. Although the agreement was initially made under the administration of President Barack Obama, current president Donald Trump is to inherit the initiative.
Not much work has been done since the signing of the agreement, but many in Iraq’s government seem ready to coordinate with Trump’s administration to further goals outlined in the initiative. Although the agreement is largely soft worded and does not provide concrete or pragmatic solutions to many current issues, the nature and narrative of the agreement is one that seems to value the role of America in the future of Iraq.
Indeed America will play a fundamental role in the future of Iraq after ISIS. Many are fearful that the result will mirror that of post invasion Iraq with instability and a political vacuum as a result of an inability to manage issues in government and society in the country.
An American future for Iraq
Special Envoy McGurk in his July 8th press conference pointed out in regards to the agreement “everything we do here in Iraq is with the permission and consent of the Iraqi Government. So these will be sovereign decisions of the Government of Iraq”. Whether this is true or not is yet to be seen.
What is known though is that America will definitely play a significant role in post-ISIS Iraqi politics. Highlighted in the Strategic Framework Agreement are calls for America to support and strengthen Iraq’s democracy.
In its own words, “the United States shall ensure maximum efforts to work with and through the democratically elected Government of Iraq”. The means of such efforts will surely result in political interference by Trump’s administration.
Iraq will have no choice but to follow the advice of the United States, in an effort to either make itself an ally to the country or to disassociate itself from its heavily influential neighbor Iran. This alliance or dissociation if made material, will see the emergence of pro-American sentiments in Iraq in such a capacity that the country will once and for all shed its rebellious ways and embrace the political and economic hold of the United States, not unlike its other neighbor Saudi Arabia.
Iraq will ultimately be a reflection of Trump’s America. A mirroring of Trumpian American policy and motivations will be the face of Iraq after the caliphate. If not, the country will fall under the sphere of influence of Iran. Both will ultimately result in the dilution of Iraqi identity and self-determination. That is the real tragedy of Iraq. The country is no longer its own but is run by those who rely on the leadership of others to make a future for their country.
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