Peter W. Galbraith is a former US Ambassador to Croatia and Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan. He is the author of two books on the Iraq War, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End and Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies. (November 2019)
The full consequences of President Trump’s decision on October 6 to withdraw American troops and give Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a green light to invade northeast Syria are not yet clear. Erdoğan claimed that he wanted to create a twenty-mile buffer zone in which perhaps one million Syrian refugees living in Turkey could be resettled, but he may have had the ambition of turning all of northeast Syria over to the Islamists whom Turkey had sponsored in western Syria during the country’s civil war and who were largely defeated there. Thanks to deft Russian diplomacy, that ambition—which could have reignited the Syrian civil war just as it was winding down—appears to have been largely thwarted. But it is hard to imagine a more calamitous outcome for the United States, the Kurds, NATO, and possibly Turkey itself.
We hear again and again from Washington that we have turned a corner in Iraq and are on the path to victory. If so, it is a strange victory. Shiite religious parties that are Iran’s closest allies in the Middle East control Iraq’s central government and the country’s oil-rich south.
Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States
by Trita Parsi
In his continuing effort to bolster support for the Iraq war, President Bush traveled to Reno, Nevada, on August 28 to speak to the annual convention of the American Legion. He emphatically warned of the Iranian threat should the United States withdraw from Iraq. Said the President, “For all those …
On May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq’s three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. General Benjamin Mixon, the US commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of …
On January 10, 2007, President Bush presented his new Iraq plan in a nationally broadcast address from the White House library. “The most urgent priority for success in Iraq,” he explained, “is security, especially in Baghdad.” He announced that he was sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Baghdad and …
Trump’s decision to decertify the nuclear deal followed an extensive policy review to come up with a new Iran strategy. By supporting Iraq, the administration intends to contain Iran’s influence in the region. An independent Iraq today could block Iran’s access to its ally in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, and from there to the territory in Lebanon controlled by its proxy, Hezbollah. With this larger strategic picture in mind, sacrificing the Kurds may be an acceptable price to pay—especially as they had declined to follow US advice on the referendum. There is, however, an obvious flaw in this approach.
Recent reports on my activities in Kurdistan call for a response. I have been both a writer on Iraq and an active participant in events there. After being an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds in the 1980s, I came to the view that the Iraqi Kurdish aspiration for independence was morally justified and the only sure means of protecting the Kurdish people. In late 2003 and early 2004, I helped Kurdistan’s leaders draft a proposal for a self-governing Kurdistan that was submitted to the Coalition Provisional Authority on February 11, 2004, for inclusion in Iraq’s interim constitution. Under the proposal, Kurdistan had its own government and military, Kurdistan law prevailed over Iraqi law, and Kurdistan controlled its own natural resources, including oil.