Muftic: Stalemate in Iraq might be best plan |

Muftic: Stalemate in Iraq might be best plan

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

The GOP is hooting with glee that President Obama has no plan to stop ISIS. Hooting back, neither does the GOP have a plan except for the few who want us to interject thousands of boots on the ground with no exit strategy.

These same GOP accusers take no responsibility to vote in Congress for any authorization or propose their own plan. They are happy to let Obama take the fall and to lob political rocks at him. It may be time to dust off Joe Biden’s plan.

Those stone throwers took out of context comments the president made at the G7 Summit that he had no complete plan to defeat ISIS. They ignored the rest of the statement in which the president shifted part of the blame to the Iraqi leaders who needed to make commitments and be more inclusive.

We once had a plan, but it blew up, and the fault lies mostly in Baghdad, not Washington. The reason we fully withdrew our troops was that the Baghdad government refused to sign a status of forces agreement with the Bush administration to keep our troops from jeopardy of being prosecuted locally by Iraqis for breaking laws. The Bush administration compromised on that point and the final agreement included removal of all troops. Worse, the Shia dominated government in Baghdad refused to be inclusive of Sunnis and Kurds as promised.

The result is that Iraq has fallen apart and so has our post-Iraq plan. The Sunnis refuse to fight for a Shia government and the newer Shia government, even with more promises of inclusiveness, still maintains its Shia identity and domination. The Iraqi Shias are loyal to Baghdad. Special Iranian forces are effective against ISIS, as well. At least their guns are pointed in the same direction as ours. However, it is not in the interest of U.S. allies for Iran (backers of Hamas and Assad’s Syria) to gain more influence over Baghdad, either, scotching U.S. direct coordination.

The Obama administration is now supporting a Sunni uprising against ISIS. The insertion of 450 trainers and front line “advisers” were added to the already existing 3,000 U.S. forces there. More could be coming. There have been successes in a strategy of establishing “lily pad” fortresses housing our advisers and Sunni troops positioned in forward conflict areas.

What could a strategy to exit Iraq look like? One plan, authored by then Sen. Joe Biden, would have divided Iraq into its various ethnic/religious divisions, maybe in a federal system, much like the Bosnia solution. Both Bosnia and Iraq were all or part of countries formed post World War I. Antagonistic ethnic groups were lumped into one country defined by artificial boundaries. In Bosnia, 1990s civil war stalemated thanks to NATO air attacks against Bosnian Serbs and U.S. advisers helping Croats. De facto ethnic cleansing was a reality. All sides were ready to agree to the Dayton Accord.

We are not there yet in Iraq. Maybe the best plan is for stalemating the conflict with enough of our trainers and supplies until all parties are ready to negotiate the breakup or federalization of Iraq.

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