Four Reasons US Troops Should Pull Out of Syria and Iraq ASAP
Washington's military presence in the countries does not contribute to Middle Eastern peace but makes American soldiers a target, a new Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft report has concluded.
American and coalition forces deployed in the Middle East have come under attack a whopping 73 times since October 17, according to the US press. The number of strikes against US military deployments has increased amid the Gaza War
between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Islamists.
For his part, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah hinted in his statement earlier this month that attacks on US assets and personnel from Yemen, Iraq and other locations are related to Washington's support to Israel, as well as an unprecedented US military buildup in the region.
"To the Americans, I say: If you want the secondary fronts to stop, you must cease the aggression on Gaza," the Hezbollah leader stressed on November 11.
"The regional reverberations of the Israel-Gaza war demonstrate why the White House should scrap, not reinforce, America’s outdated and unnecessarily provocative troop presence in Syria and Iraq," argued Jason Brownlee, a professor of government at the University of Texas, in his op-ed for the Quincy Institute of Responsible Statecraft website.
22 November 2023, 18:22 GMT
Per Brownlee, it's time for US President Joe Biden to redeploy US forces to a safer position offshore. The academic cites four reasons for that move.
First, the American military presence in Syria and Iraq provides an opportunity for Shiite militias allied with Iran to influence US national strategy by targeting American soldiers in the region, according to the professor. He draws attention to the fact that some 900 US troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq "have been taking fire" from local militias since October 17. These attacks have led to "approximately 62 US personnel injuries," as per Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
At the same time, if one believes that these military deployments "check Iranian influence" in Iraq and Syria, one is wrong, the academic remarked, referring to numerous billboards featuring Iranian special forces commander Qasem Soleimani (assassinated in a US targeted drone strike on January 3, 2020, in Baghdad) across Iraq and Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani close ties to Tehran.
Second, the protracted US military deployment is fraught with the risk of a potential US-Iranian conflagration that would be much more dangerous and larger in proportions than the Gaza War.
Third, if US military installations in Syria and Iraq are still aimed at fighting Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)* remnants, the US government should cede this noble task to regional militias, argued Brownlee. Per him, locals would do the job much quicker. To prove his thesis, the academic referred to Afghanistan, which US military forces hurriedly left in August 2021.
Contrary to gloomy prognoses that Afghanistan would be dragged into instability and bloodbath after the Taliban's** takeover, "political violence in Afghanistan plummeted by 80% in the first year after American forces left," the academic noted. Moreover, the Taliban managed to curb the threat posed by the Daesh local affiliate, "accomplishing in a matter of months what the Pentagon and CIA had been trying to achieve since 2015," he stressed.
5 November 2023, 13:43 GMT
Given that such results have been achieved by the "impoverished agrarian country", one can expect that well-armed and trained Syrian and Iraqi armies could thwart the Islamist terror threat posed by "the dead-enders of ISIS’s defunct caliphate" even more efficiently, per the scholar. When it comes to Damascus, it is also assisted both by Iran and Russia, he added.
Fourth, those who believe that the US military withdrawal from the region will increase the danger to Americans and US interests, appear to be wrong too, continued the professor.
The academic explained that as the Israel-Gaza war broke out on October 7, he was finishing his trip through "once the deadliest zones of America’s recent wars", namely: Kabul, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan
; and the cities of Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul in Iraq.
"I traversed dozens of Taliban and Iraqi government checkpoints, as I toured cities and rural areas without any sense of threat from officials or terrorists," he stressed. "The physical security I experienced in both countries dispels the most common fear about withdrawing American troops."
Given all of the above, Washington needs to wrap up its unneeded presence in the two Mideast states, which would at the same time enable "a nimbler US foreign policy," Brownlee concluded.
23 February 2023, 18:53 GMT
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia and many other countries.
** The Taliban is an organization under UN sanctions for terrorism.