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  • President Obama and Iraq: Toward a Responsible Troop Drawdown

    The Iran Policy Committee (IPC) launched its fourth book in a series at the National Press Club today looking at the situation in Iraq, titled President Obama and Iraq: Toward a Responsible Troop Drawdown. The book was written by Prof. Raymond Tanter, Georgetown University and President of the Iran Policy Committee, and presents the findings from a fact-finding delegation that traveled to Iraq to interview Sunni Awakening members, Iraqi Shiites, Iraqi and American officials, and the Iranian opposition based in Iraq.

    The book seeks to provide a dispassionate view of the situation in Iraq and the drawdown with an eye to Obama’s plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The panelists sought to highlight key findings and included Prof. Raymond Tanter; General Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.), former Joint Force Commander in the United States Air Force; and Bruce McColm, President, Institute for Democratic Strategies and former Executive Director, Freedom House.

    A key finding was that the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq is likely to give a significant opening to Iran. The Iranian’s have a two-pronged strategy toward Iraq. They are reaching out very skillfully by providing economic and social assistance such as medical care. Secondly, they are projecting power with covert operations, influence operations and information campaigns designed to maximize Iranian influence over Iraq. The Iranian leadership has stated that Iran will seek to fill the vacuum inside Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal. This will be facilitated by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is present inside Iraq and ready to take advantage of the withdrawal.

    The panelists emphasized that the US exit strategy is extremely critical. The stakes are very high for the region, Iraq, and for the United States, which has sacrificed an enormous amount of blood and treasure. A major challenge that the book address in more detail is how to maintain the gains from the political-military surge during a withdrawal and how to prevent Sunni Awakening members from defecting back to al Qaeda.

    The panelists argued that a key bellwether for progress in Iraq will be how the Iraqi government treats the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group based at Camp Ashraf inside Iraq. According to panelists, this group played a major role in the Sunni Awakening by successfully mediating between the American military forces and the Sunni Sheikhs. A key question today is whether the Iraqi government will continue to support this group and the Sunni Awakening. Moreover, the treatment of the MEK will be a benchmark for how the Iraqi government will tolerate different views.

    The panel suggested that there are already some very disturbing signs on both of these fronts. The Iraqi government has recently begun clashing with Sunni Awakening members and some are not being paid any longer. Moreover, the Iraqi government has cordoned off Camp Ashraf for the past three weeks and is blocking all access to the MEK from women, lawyers and cell phones.

    The Iranian government is campaigning for the MEK to be returned to Iran. They have stated that they will be treated humanely. This is farcical however, as it is illegal to be a member of the MEK inside Iran and punishable by death. Moreover, Camp Ashraf is protected under the Geneva Conventions and it would be illegal under international law to return members of the MEK back to Iran.

    The panelists recommend taking the MEK off the US terrorism list and reaching out to the group to gain leverage over Tehran. They state that the MEK should not be used as a bargaining tool in some “grand bargain” as the government in Tehran cannot be trusted to uphold any promises.

    If President Obama and Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, hope to follow a similar path in Afghanistan by “peeling off moderates” then they will need a third party mediator/interlocutor group, according to the panelists. If the US abandons this group and sits by while it faces increasing pressure from the Iraqi government, then the panelists warned that the US will find no trusting interlocutors in Afghanistan.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to President Obama and Iraq: Toward a Responsible Troop Drawdown

    1. Mehdi H., England says:

      How very good of the IPC to release a book on this topic. As an Iranian, I fully support the People's Mojahedin and I am fed up by the way some people in the US are abandoning ship in the struggle to stabalise Iraq without offering major concessions to the mullahs' regime.

    2. Pingback: President Obama and Iraq: Toward a Responsible Troop Drawdown … « MY WP

    3. Marshall Hill MI. says:

      Why is Mehdi in England and not Iran? Go home!

      Apologies and crossing the Isle will not gain the

      Respect of those that would harm us! They will wait till we turn our back to strike!

    4. Professor Noushin says:

      The only feasible way to stabilize Iraq is to eliminate (or substantially minimize) the Iranian regime's influence there.

      The MeK has shown to be a catalyst for harmony, stability, and reconciliation in Iraq. Any efforts to force the MeK to relocate anywhere, even within Iraq, is illegal and will only address the needs/wants of the Iranian regime. Such efforts must therefore be resisted at all costs.

    5. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Ever hear of a surgeon curing cancer by removing a bandaid? Sounds like what we are doing?

      In asking why we are pulling out and we remove the bunny huggers and tree lovers and 'All war is wrong' types, what is left is the money and our soldiers.

      Out of all the money spent, how much remains right here in the good old USA/ Most of it. Supplies, weapons manufacturing, paychecks sent home, etc.

      Our fighting men and women? We had the largest re-enlistment in our Nations history last Forth of July. Whats that say about our soldiers beliefs?

      Were we wrong in going in to Iraq in the first place? Certainly, if we were going in to help set up Democracy! Democracy doesn't work, never has never will! Ask the Greeks. Check out their history! We should have been helping to set up a Republic, such as our own! Check out the Roman's prior to the Ceasars. Lasted a long, long time and everyone profited. Then after lots of centuries the Senators became proffessional and greedy (remind you of anyone?)

      The old saying,"The squeeky wheel gets the most greese.", may be a truism, but not a fact. Just as often the squeeky wheel gets replaced! We need people in Congress and Leaders with enough moxie to say no to the 'Seirra Clubs" and to the "Enviromentalist" and to the "Global Warming Alarmist (whos hypothesis was proven wrong in 2005) and to the "Fossil Fuel running out people (who are flat out wrong, oil is made from two most common compounds in the Earth's crust, Calcium Carbonate and Iron Oxide and in a continuos prosses) of this Country. And to say YES to those who want to drill in North Dakota and Montana for the biggest deposit of oil in the world. Yes to those who do not see the reason for 'Carbon Taxes'. Yes to those who see the falicy of 'Global Warming'. Yes to those who want to use only our own domestic oil, gas and coal!

      We also need people in power who say this is wrong to have million of illegal aliens living here in the United States and have them deported. People who say this is wrong when Visas have run out and the Courts say you must go and yet they stay.

      In other words we need real men and women running this Country and looking to the needs of the fifty Independent Nations allowed to them under the Constitution in this Republic!

    6. Majid Saatchi New Yo says:

      On April 3, the Iraqi forces prevented three Iraqi physician entering Camp Ashraf, home to members of People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), in Iraq, to carry out an operation on Ms. Fatemeh Alizadeh suffering from an internal tumor and four other patients. Arrangements for the Iraqi physicians including a female anesthetist and two specialized surgeons to pay a visit to Ashraf had been made since a long time ago. The Iraqi government representative as well as the commander of Iraqi forces had previously agreed with the physicians’ visit to Ashraf in the presence of the U.S. military commander and the details of the three medical doctors were provided to the Iraqi forces. In addition, another Ashraf resident, Ms. Qodsieh Ganje’i, suffering from sudden ailment suspected of being acute appendicitis urgently need medical attention.

      While Ashraf residents cannot leave the camp and have no access to Iraqi hospitals, they meet their medical needs either self-sufficiently or by inviting Iraqi doctors to Ashraf. Under these circumstances, preventing doctors to enter the camp is an anti-human criminal act.

      This act that was carried out upon the orders of Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, to please the religious dictatorship ruling Iran, violates the most rudimentary rights that are even observed in war zones. It is a blatant violation of human rights, an affront to human values and infringement of the International Humanitarian Law. In an interview with Al-Forat TV on April 1, al-Rubaie explicitly said, "We will gradually make their presence in Iraq intolerable for them."

      Today's act, once again demonstrate the ominous objectives of the religious fascism ruling Iran to create a human catastrophe in Ashraf.

      The Iranian Resistance calls on the U.S. President, the U.S. government, UN Secretary General and the Security Council, relevant international organizations and in particular the International Committee of the Red Cross for their immediate intervention to prevent a human catastrophe in Ashraf.

      Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

      April 3, 2009

    7. Barb -mn says:

      I don't trust President Obama knows what the word "responsible" means.

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