Miguel Angel Contreras/US Navy
The American withdrawal, which comes after the administration's failure to secure a new agreement that would have allowed troops to remain in Iraq, won't be good for ordinary Iraqis nor for the region. But it will unquestionably benefit Iran.
President Obama's February 2009 speech at Camp Lejeune accurately defined the objectives of American policy in Iraq as being "an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant." He then outlined how the U.S. would achieve that goal by working "to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists."
Despite recent administration claims to the contrary, Iraq today meets none of those conditions. Its sovereignty is hollow because of the continued activities of Iranian-backed militias in its territory. Its stability is fragile and perhaps ephemeral, since the fundamental disputes among ethnic and sectarian groups remain unresolved. And it is not in any way self-reliant. The Iraqi military cannot protect its borders, its airspace, or its territorial waters without foreign assistance.
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