The War in the Middle East and Iraq

In this paper, I will use the Complex Interdependences theory to illustrate that a stable Iraq will be a step to a peaceful and prosperous the Middle East. I will point out the major events in the Middle region that lead to the U.S. war with Iraq and I will focus on the aftermath. Therefore, I will use the report by the Iraq Study Group to explain the insurgency in Iraq, the politics behind the insurgency and main actors, the United States, the coalition and the Iraq government, the neighboring states, the refugee crisis, the expansion of the conflict, the oil factor, recommendations of the Study Group, and my conclusion. By using the Interdependence theory one can understand the interest of the U.S. in the Middle East and the use of military force, as a last resort, to bring stability to the region.

One of its main policies was to keep stable petroleum prices in the world and avoid a disruption of oil supplies from the Middle East. In 1986 an Iraqi Kurdish city near the border with Iran was gas both by Iraqis and Iranians resulting in the death of hundreds of thousand Kurds. However, the world community and U.N. blame exclusively Saddam Hussein for this atrocity. Then, the end of the Iran-Iraq war made Saddam Hussein believe that he was the leader of the Gulf and the Arab world, this false assumption put him squared against U.S. interest.

Next, in 1990 rumors circulated that Saddam was trying to get capacitors; they were alleged to be the trigger mechanism for nuclear bombs. Also, Iraqis demanded from the Kuwaitis two key islands (Bubiyan and Warbah) that would allow them access to the Gulf and bypass the Shatt. The Kuwait government offer to lease the islands for billions of dollars, this made Saddam Hussein extremely angry. His only chance to get Iraq’s economy moving was blocked and in his mind, there was no other choice but to invade Kuwait by force.

Finally, at the end of the first Gulf war, Saddam Hussein none compliances with the U.N. resolution, the inaccurate C.I.A. intelligence reports, made the United States war with Iraq unavoidable. Attacks against U.S., Coalition and Iraqi security forces are constant and increasing. “October 2006 was the deadliest month for U.S. forces since January 2005, with 102 Americans killed. Total attacks in October 2006 averaged 180 per day, up from 70 per day in January 2006. Daily attacks against Iraqi security forces in October were more than double the level in January. Attacks against civilians in October were four times higher than in January. Some 3000 Iraqi civilians are killed every month.”1

Violence is increasing in magnitude, organization, and devastation. There are several sources of violence in Iraq; the Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaeda and affiliated jihadist foreign groups, Shiite militias and death squads, and organized crime. Sectarian violence particularly in and around Baghdad has become the principal obstacle to stability. The majority of attacks on the coalition still come from the Sunni Arab insurgency. They are former members of the Bath party, unhappy Sunni Iraqis Arabs, and criminals and it is supported by the Sunni Arab community. The insurgency has no main leader but is a network of cells. Its members have detail knowledge of Iraq’s infrastructure, and arms and funds are supplied primarily from Iraq. The insurgents have different objectives, although nearly all oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq. Most wish to restore Sunni Arab ruled in Iraq.

Some aim at winning local power and control in predominantly Sunni areas. “Al Qaeda is responsible for small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some of the most spectacular acts: suicide attacks, large truck bombs, and attacks on significant religious and political targets. Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters numbering an estimated 1300 play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations.”2 Al Qaeda wants a wider sectarian war between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite, and to force the United States out of Iraq. Sectarian violence creates the largest number of Iraqi civilian deaths. Iraq is in the grip of deadly sectarian violence; Sunni insurgent attacks created large-scale Shiite respond and vice versa. Most Iraqis are often found with hands tied behind their back and a hole on the head, their corpses show up in rivers or fields.

The Iraqis confidence in their government is shaken by the failure of reducing the violence of a bolden militia, which forced the people of Iraq to flee into zones control by their sect and where they feel safe. In most parts of Iraq and particularly in Baghdad sectarian violence is taking place. Shiite militia engaging in a sectarian cleansing poses a great danger to short-term and long-term stability. These militias are made of several groups. Some of them have an alliance with the government, other is highly local, and some operated outside the law. They are breaking into cells and organizing without a chain of command. The militia’s primary target is Sunni Arab civilians, while others have a power struggle among each other. The militias undermine the power of the Iraqi government, the army, and the police, as well as the will of Sunnis to participate in a nonviolence political process.

If leaders can only maintain and increase their power with the support of the army forces, they create a powerful endorsement to the militias. “The Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr, may number as many as 60,000 fighters. It has directly challenged the U.S. and Iraqi government forces, and it is widely believed to engage in regular violence against Sunni Arab civilians. Mahdi fighters patrol certain Shiite enclaves, notably northeast Baghdad, the army has grown in size and influence, some elements have moved beyond Sadr’s control.

The Bard Brigade is affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. The Bard Brigade has long-standing ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”3 Many members have become part of the Iraqi police, and others act as the police in southern Iraqis cities, by using the uniform of the security services Badr fighters have perpetrated sectarian violence against Sunni Arabs. In southern Iraq, the Mahdi Army and the Bard fighters are locked in a power struggle. Organized crime also makes daily life almost impossible for many Iraqis.

Around Iraq murders, robberies, and kidnappings are on the rise. In other to be part of the Sunni insurgency or Shiite militia local criminals provide funds and guns. In Baghdad, In Kirkuk, the power struggle is between the Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen. The Kurdish north and part of the Shiite south are the three most stable provinces in the country

“Confronting this violence is the Multi-National Forces-Iraq under U.S. command, working in concert with Iraqi security forces. Approximately 141,000 U.S. military personnel are serving in Iraq, together with approximately 16,500 military personnel from twenty-seven coalition partners, the largest contingent being 7,200 from the United Kingdom.”4

The north and Baghdad are the main responsibility of the U.S. Army. The U.S. Marines take the lead in Anbar. United States is building its largest embassy in Baghdad, the current one in Baghdad totals around 1,000 U.S. government employees. As of today, the U.S. military has reduced large-scale combat operations.

Most of the U.S. arm forces have been to Iraq at least once. Many are on their second or even third deployment; these can range from seven months for the Marine units to one year for the Army. The deployment makes it hard for a battalion and a brigade to become familiar with the area, gain the trust of the locals and their support. Many military units are at their breaking point. The harsh conditions in Iraq are disabling equipment faster than can be replaced, as a result, many soldiers do not have the full equipment for training when they go back to the United States. The arm forces have little reserves if the United States faces other crises in the world. The primary goal of the U.S. military is to raise the level of competence of Iraqi arm forces.

“By the end of 2006, the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq under American leadership is expected to have trained and equipped a target number of approximately 326,000 Iraqi security services. That figure includes 138,000 member of the Iraqi Army and 188, 000 Iraqi police. Iraqis have operational control over roughly one-third of Iraqi security forces.”5

The main concern remains about the ethnic makeup and loyalty of some Iraqi units particularly, whether they will carry out orders from the national government instead of a sectarian group. Iraq military units lack a chain of command, the capability to work one-arm forces, and to carry organized missions at the division and brigade level. They lack the mechanized infantry, logistic, and support. Iraqi police cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture, and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians. The Ministry of the Interior oversees the police, but the agency is corrupt and plagues by militias.

The Iraqi government is divided among sectarian lines and the key players support the interest of their sect. Thus, the lack of political will for the welfare of the nation by Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurdish leaders accounts for an ungovernable Iraq. Furthermore, in the United Iraqi Alliance members are in a power struggle over regions, ministries all over the country. “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demonstrated an understanding of the key issues facing in Iraq, notably the need for national reconciliation and security in Baghdad. Maliki has publicly rejected a U.S. timetable to achieve certain benchmarks, ordered the removal of blockades around Sadr City, and sought more control over Iraqi security forces, requests to move forward on reconciliation or on disbanding Shiite militias.”6”

Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani is the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq. Despite staying out of the day-a to day politics, he has been the most influential leader in the country: all major Shiite leaders have thought his approval or guidance. Sistani has encouraged a unified Shiite bloc with moderated aims within a unified Iraq. Sistani’s influence may be waning, as his words have not succeeded in preventing intra-Shiite violence or retaliation against Sunnis.”7 “Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim is a cleric and the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the largest and most organized Shiite political party. It seeks the creation of an autonomous Shiite region comprising nine provinces in the South.”8 “Moqtada Al-Sadr has a large following among impoverished Shiites, particularly in Baghdad. He has joined Maliki’s governing coalition, but his Mahdi Army has clashed with the Badr Brigades, as well as with Iraqi, U.S., and U.K. forces. Sadr proclaims to be an Iraqi nationalist.”9

Many experts see Sadr as pursuing the example of Hezbollah that is a political party that meets the basic services of a government and a militia that provides security. Because Sunni Arabs are no longer in control of Iraq they feel left out and their political leaders lack any influence over the Iraqi government. The leadership of the Sunni Arab insurgency is not well known, but two major Sunni leaders have national support in Iraq. “Tariq Al-Hashimi is one of two vice presidents of Iraq and the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Hashimi opposes the formation of new autonomous regions and has advocated the distribution of oil revenues based on population, a reversal of de-Baathification, and the removal of Shiite militia fighters from the Iraqi security forces. Sheik Harith Al-Dhari is the head of the Muslim Scholars Association, the most influential Sunni organization in Iraq. Dhari has condemned the American occupation and spoken out against the Iraqi government. His organization has been linked to the Sunni Arab insurgency.”10

Iraqi Kurds have created a successful alliance by forming two major political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Kurdish politics has been influenced for many years by two major leaders who have long contributed to the movement for Kurdish independence and sovereignty. “Massoud Barzani is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the president of the Kurdish regional government. Barzani has cooperated with his longtime rival, Jalal Talabani, in securing and empowered, autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Jahal Talabani is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the President of Iraq. Whereas Barzani has focused his efforts in Kurdistan, Talabani has secured power in Baghdad, and several important PUK government ministers are loyal to him. Talabani strongly support autonomy for Kurdistan. He has also sought to bring real power to the office of the Presidency.”11

The prosperity and stability of Iraq are a result of the actions and policies of its neighbors, none of them want an unstable Iraq. Some neighbors are doing nothing to help Iraq and others are undermining its stability. The Iraqi government complains those neighbors are interfering in their affairs. The situation in Iraq is tied to events in the Middle East; after the bombing campaign of Israel on Lebanon many Iraqis, U.S., and international experts saw a greater opposition to the American-led coalition from which Sadr capitalized. The middling of Syria and Iran in Iraq is tied to their national interests and opposition to the United States’ goals.

Many Sunni Arab countries are fearful of an increasing Iranian influence in Iraq and the region. Most of them are worried about efforts by the United States in promoting democracy in Iraq and the Middle East. Iran has the most influence in Iraq; it also has a long friendly relationship with many Iraqi Shiite politicians, who were exiled in Iran during Saddam Hussein. The Iranians have provided political support, arms, funds, and trained Shiite militias in Iraq. The United States has blamed Iran for providing sophisticated explosives to the Shiite militia and the Sunni Arab insurgency. Experts worry about the increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran over, nuclear weapons, support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iraqi militia; diplomatic initiatives from both sides to resolves their differences have not occurred.

Syria has to allow the flow of arms and insurgents across its border into Iraq and has granted exile to many ex-baptism leaders. The Syrian government is content in keeping the United States hands tied in Iraq. However, they have indicated in 2006 to agree to a diplomatic meeting with the Bush administration to end 24 years of isolation. The Gulf States and Saudi Arabia have played no role in Iraq, they refused to cancel Iraq’s debt and provide financial support to the government. Sunni Arab politicians blame for the lack of political support to their fellow Sunnis in Iraq, but they are grateful for the economic assistance from citizens of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. However, many Gulf countries and including Saudi Arabia provide air bases, over-flight of air space, and intelligence support. The Saudi’s have hosted a conference for all the religious leaders of Iraq to promote dialogue.

Many Gulf countries oppose an Iraqi democratic government, but they feared most an unstable Iraq control by Iran and the impact that influence may have in their countries. The Turkish government policy toward Iraq is to prevent a Kurdish state that can threaten its national security. Turkey has provided support to a Turkmen minority in Iraq and prevented the incorporation of Kirkuk into Iraq Kurdistan. Also, the government of Turkey has complained to the U.S. and Iraq over a thousand Turkish lives murder by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), the Turks have warned Iraq and the United States government that is prepared to go after the PKK in northern Iraq. Egypt and Jordan have provided political assistance to Iraq.

The Jordanian government has trained thousands of Iraqi police. King Abdullah hosted a diplomatic meeting between Prime Minister Maliki and President Bush. Jordan has allowed overflight, military rescued and provided intelligence to the U.S. Egypt has allowed overflight, Suez Canal transit, and provided terrorist information to the United States. Both countries for the welfare of Iraqi’s Sunnis and the insurgency influence they may export to other countries in the region. The U.N. has documented that 1.6 million are displays within Iraq, and 1.8 million Iraqi refugees have left the country. “Jordan is currently home to 700,000 Iraqi refugees (equal to 10% of its population) and fears a flood of many more.”12

An unstable Iraq could lead to a regional war and prompt many neighbors to send troops. Iran may attack southern Iraq and captured the oil fields. Turkey could send troops to prevent a Kurdish state. Many diplomats fear sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites in the whole region and such conflict could lead to the spread of fundamentalism, mass refugee, and unfriendly regime change to the United States in the Middle East. As a result, oil prices will skyrocket creating an unstable global economy. Al Qaeda would proclaim a victory over the United States in Iraq and used it for recruiting purposes; this could cripple U.S. influence in the world, and make it difficult for the United States to deal with North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan.

“Oil production and sales account for nearly 70% of Iraq’s GDP, and more than 95% of government revenues. Iraq produces around 2.2 million barrels per day, and far short of the government, global energy prices have been higher than projected, making it possible for Iraq to meet its budget revenues targets. Problems with oil production are caused by a lack of security, lack of investment, and lack of technical capacity. Insurgents with a detailed knowledge of Iraq’s infrastructure target pipelines and oil facilities. There is no metering system for the oil. There is poor maintenance pumping stations, pipelines, and port facilities, as well as inadequate investment in modern technology. Iraq has a cadre of an expert in the oil sector, but intimidation and extended migration of experts to other countries has eroded technical capacity.

Foreign companies have been reluctant to invest, and Iraq’s Ministry of oil has been unable to spend more than 15% of this capital budget. Corruption is also debilitating. Experts estimate that 150,000 to 200,000 and perhaps as many as 500,000 barrels of oil per day are being stolen. Controlled prices for refined products resulted in shortages within Iraq, which drive consumers to the thriving black market. One senior U.S. official told us that corruption is more responsible than insurgents for breakdowns in the oil sector. The politics of oil has the potential to further damage the country’s already fragile effort to create a unified central government.

The Iraqi constitution leaves the door open for regions to take the lead in developing new oil resources. “Article 108 states that” oil and gas is the ownership of all the peoples of Iraq and all the regions and governorates, “while article 109 tasks the federal government with” “the management of oil and gas extracted from current fields.” These articles have created a debate on the definition of existing fields and new ones, which will have a profound effect on the management of new oil revenues.”13 Iraqis senior oil experts proposed a national oil company that could ease tensions by centralizing revenues and eliminating local claims over oil production and income. But the local leaders did not trust and resisted the proposal; sitting the right of the community to the oil revenue.

Furthermore, the Iraqi Kurds have taken control of oil fields in northern Iraq and have negotiated a deal with foreign companies. On the other hand, the Shiites in the southern region have made investment contracts with foreign oil companies. Finally, a proposal to distribute oil revenue as per capital income to all Iraqis has been considering an alternative, but a distribution system has not been developed by any agency. Also, Iraq currently lacks a state census, income tax system, and qualified professionals to implement such a proposal.

The Iraqi study group suggested that the United States government working with the Iraqi should pursue a new diplomatic offensive to deal with the challenges facing Iraq and the region following several recommendations; create unity and support for the country, neutralize actions by Iraqi neighbors that can threaten security, a fair distribution of oil revenue, and end support for the militias. If the Iraqi government is serious about making peace with the Sunni Arabs, Al Qaeda could be defeated with the help of Saudi Arabia. Turkey can play a major role in the stability of Iraq that will prevent safe heaven to Kurdish terrorists. Egypt, as a major player in the region, could encourage Iraqi Sunni Arabs to give reconciliation chances.

The U.S. dealing with Syria and Iran will be challenging, but the United States can give incentives as memberships to the World Trade Organization, an agreement that the U.S. will not seek to topple the regimes, economic assistance, a peace treaty with Israel, and the creation of a Palestinian state. It should be the short-term objectives of the United States to help Iraq draft an oil law that spells the rights of regional and local governments. Also, the Iraqi military and local security forces should be trained in protecting the oil infrastructure. In the long-term objectives of the U.S. should encourage investment by local and international oil companies in developing new fields in southern Iraq? A political will, financial support, disarmament, dispersing, and integration policy will be requiring of the Iraqi government to end the militias.

The United States has made a tremendous effort to bring democracy and stability to Iraq. As of today the total of U.S. soldiers’ deaths figure is 3,873 and for injuries is 28,451, the government is spending $8 billion per month and the total cost of the war is estimated to pass $3 trillion. The ability of the Bush administration to achieves its goals is diminishing and exit strategy needs it before times wrongs out. By focusing on the Iraqi aftermath, one can see the magnitude that Shiite vs. Sunni Arab sectarian violence could create in the Middle East. The Iraq Study Group made recommendations to the administration to achieve stability in Iraq and the region; I will make my conclusion based on my research. First, it is most pressing that a national reconciliation among all the Iraqi sects takes place, a political solution at the national level is what Iraq needs instead of a military one. A Constitutional review by the Iraqi government should be the top priority.

Thus allowing for former Arab Nationalists and Baathists to be part of the nation not included top leaders of Saddam Hussein’s government. The Iraqi oil revenues should be controlled by the central government and equally shared. But, the Kurds already have taken control of Iraq’s northern oil fields and negotiated a billion-dollar deal with foreign oil companies in return for revenue control. The Shiites have done the same in the southern oil fields part of the country. As a result, the United States should encourage the Iraq government to pass a comprehensive oil law that constitutes to the Federal and the local government. Thus, allowing the central government to negotiate with local and international oil companies. Also, the U.S. can provide technical assistance to Iraq and improves maintenance, salaries, accounting and auditing, training for technical employees, and management. In addition, the United States military could train the Iraqi army and police to improve security for the entire oil sector.

Therefore, new fields in Southern and Northern Iraq can be explored and increase Iraq’s oil production before the war; this will have a significant impact on oil prices and global markets. Second, the Bush administration should encourage the restart of the ared-Israel peace talk, with all states and actors that recognized Israel’s right to exist, which as of today took place in Annapolis. The United States should insist on a two-state solution to the Palestinian Issue, it should provide support to President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to seek land for the peace agreement.

The Israel-Syrian conflict should be divided into three parts. One should include Syrian full respect of Lebanon’s sovereignty, as stipulated by U.N. resolution 1701. The other, Syria should end political support, arms supply, and safe passages to Hamas and Hezbollah members. The Bush administration should seek the help of Syria to isolated Iran. Only, engage Iran if they agree to stop the nuclear proliferation and the United States with the rest of the U.N. Permanent Security Council members can provide Iran with incentives. In return, Syria should get a guarantee that the United States or Israel will not invade their country seeking regime changes.

Israel should return the Golan Heights to Syria, and in return, NATO should offer Israel a permanent membership. Finally, the United States should lounge a diplomatic offensive by providing economic support and promoting free trade in the Middle East. Egyptians should realize that to keep their economy stable, they should encourage Iraq to reach a national reconsolidation. The United States, Israel, and Egypt reached a trade agreement in 1996, it allows for Egyptians good as long they have a Jews component reach the U.S. duty-free. Most of these goods come to the front of the Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) and are made possible with Israeli and American capital.

In return thousand of jobs are created in Egypt. Jordan should help Iraq seek national reconciliation. The Jordanian government gets most of its oil supply from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Jordan also has thousand of QIZ and their goods as long as they have a Jews component get to the U.S. duty-free. In 1999 Jordan’s exports were $31 million to America in 2003 it reached $674 million. Turkey needs to take part in Iraq’s reconciliation. The Turks want to deny Kurdish terrorists a haven and keep Kurdistan as a part of Iraq. Saudi Arabia could use its religious influences to facilitate a national reconciliation in Iraq. The Saudis are the largest oil and gas producer in the world and any instability in their fields creates uncertainty in the global markets. The United States is the major exporter of goods and services to Saudi Arabia. All these countries are multiethnic and are economically interdependent on one another and the Middle East; it will be in their best economic interest to bring a peaceful resolution to Iraq’s ethnic cleansing.


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DemoEssays. "The War in the Middle East and Iraq." January 4, 2023.