Iraq after Russian Intervention in Syria
The Russian formation of a coordination cell in Baghdad is an inflection point aimed at undercutting U.S. influence over the direction of the anti-ISIS efforts in Iraq and Syria. However, the Russian footprint in Iraq is much smaller than in Syria, while U.S. influence over the ISF and Iraqi state are much greater than U.S. influence in Syria. The U.S. and the U.S.-led Coalition can maintain its position as Iraq’s essential ally in the anti-ISIS fight by increasing advisory, materiel, and aerial support to the Iraqi state, without substantially increasing its ground presence. Such changes must prepare Iraq to recapture territory from ISIS quickly in order to demonstrate the value of cooperation with the U.S.