U.S. Influence in Iraq Continues to Diminish
After more than $1 trillion spent and a decade of war and occupation, the U.S. has lost almost total control of Iraq. The Shiite-ruled nation has drifted away from American influence, choosing instead to build relations with its neighbor Iran. Who would have guessed?
When the U.S. invaded and tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein, there were few that expected Iraq to turn away from its liberators, and join with radical Iran. Even the Iraqi people celebrated on the streets at first. There was, however, one man predicting a very different outcome. In the June 2003 edition of the Trumpet, editor in chief Gerald Flurry published an article boldly stating:
Now that Iraq has been taken out of the picture, Iran is even closer to becoming the reigning king of the Middle East. It may seem shocking, given the U.S. presence in the region right now, but prophecy indicates that, in pursuit of its goal, Iran will probably take over Iraq. At least, it will have a heavy influence over the Iraqi people.
This powerful article, “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?”, carried the same headline as an article written on the same subject back in the Trumpet of December 1994. Who else was making such statements so early in the conflict?
Now the mainstream media is coming to accept that the U.S. mission has failed. As Ernesto Londono from the Washington Post said, “Today, America’s voice here has been reduced to a whimper.”
There are still some who would cling to the belief that Iraq is not a failure. Mr. Londono wrote, “In some ways, two senior U.S. officials said, having a smaller mission in Baghdad, with no U.S. troops, has set the tone for a healthier relationship. They noted, for instance, that once American troops withdrew at the end of 2011, Shiite militias stopped lobbing rockets at the embassy.”
Read that again. American leaders call Iraq a success because the enemy stopped firing when U.S. troops left. Perhaps their enemies stopped firing because they won? The American troops withdrew. That is what the terrorists wanted, and that is what they got.
The shrinking embassy is a reflection of waning U.S. influence in the nation. Only one year ago, there were 16,000 workers at the embassy. According to U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft, today there are 10,500 workers, and by the end of the year that figure is set to be 5,500. Only 1,000 of those will be diplomats; the rest will be security personnel and outside contractors.
The heavily fortified complex is the largest American mission in the world. It is the size of the Vatican, and opened to the tune of $730 million. Today, it has been reduced to a shadow of its former self.
“This is a sign the Americans have given up their promises to support Iraqis. The U.S. Embassy has failed to play the role of being a fair mediator among Iraqi political blocs,” said Ibrahim Hussein, a Sunni engineer from Baghdad. He is just one of many Sunnis living in Iraq who have become disenchanted with U.S. operations in the nation.
As U.S. influence evaporates, so does the influence of the Sunni population. The ruling government in Iraq is primarily Shiite. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki originally promised a fair government, but has systematically destroyed his opponents. Mr. Maliki has accused at least two key rivals of terrorism, driving them into exile. Whether the claims are true or not, they leave the Shiite government with little to no viable contenders for power in the country.
The Sunni population realizes that they are being marginalized, and they won’t be getting any more help from the U.S. “America could still do a lot if they wanted to. But I think because Obama chose a line that he is taking care of interior matters rather than taking care of outside problems, that made America weak—at least in Iraq,” said Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak.
Directly to the east of Iraq is Iran. The heavily Shiite-dominated Iran has had its eyes fixed on Iraq for years. Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq acted as a counterbalance to Iran. However, when the U.S. invaded and removed Saddam Hussein from power, it destroyed the strongest Iranian opposition within the region.
Now we see the current Iraqi administration taking on more and more of an Iranian appearance. The Sunni population can see this clearer than most. The Shiite government is manipulating the political landscape to ensure the Sunnis can’t rise up against the current administration. It sees the conflict in Syria, and undoubtedly fears it may spill over the border.
Iraq is doing its part to try to prevent the Syrian government from being ousted. Iranian planes regularly fly weapons across to Syria, straight through Iraqi airspace. This couldn’t happen when the U.S. controlled the nation’s airspace. Stratfor states that “it is an open secret that Iran has been funneling weapons and fighters in civilian aircraft primarily through Iraq to reinforce the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
As violence in Syria rages, Iraq seeks to stay close to Iran and the Syrian government to try to contain a Sunni uprising in its own country.
At this crucial juncture in the Middle Eastern political climate, the U.S. is high-tailing it out of there as fast as possible. Failure upon failure has made America weary of conflict. The easiest option now is to just pack up and leave, even after investing $1.7 trillion.
The police training program typifies this mindset of retreat. In May 2012, the New York Times posted an article explaining the downfall of the program. Even while it was still operating, it was seen as a failure:
The training effort, which began in October and has already cost $500 million, was conceived of as the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan. Instead, it has emerged as the latest high-profile example of the waning American influence here following the military withdrawal, and it reflects a costly miscalculation on the part of American officials, who did not count on the Iraqi government to assert its sovereignty so aggressively.
America cannot afford to keep making these blunders in the Middle East. It is playing right into Iran’s hands.
In the New York Times recently, Ramzy Mardini of the Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies assessed the situation bluntly: “A decade since the occupation of Iraq began, Baghdad still cannot be considered an ally of the United States. … An alliance today is beyond anyone’s reach.”
Why is it so hard for the U.S. to maintain its presence in the region? Prophecy indicates Iraq will join forces with Iran. As hard as America has tried to create an ally in Iraq, it is destined to fail. Likewise, no matter how hard Iran and Iraq try to aid Syria, the embattled nation is destined to turn against them. Washington doesn’t know this, and neither do any of the nations in the Middle East. You can. You personally have the opportunity to understand why world events are shaping up as they are right now. Study “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?” by Gerald Flurry and see for yourself how the puzzle pieces are falling into place in the Middle East as God prophesied, and as the Trumpet continues to proclaim.