The U.S. Response to Basra and Iraq's Crisis
Iraq is undergoing a major crisis generated by an ongoing internal political struggle over the formation of the next government and a failure in service provision. The Iranian regime and its proxies have worsened conditions and further destabilized Iraq. In an opinion essay published in The Wall Street Journal, Institute for the Study of War President Kimberly Kagan and Critical Threats Project at AEI Director Frederick W. Kagan make the case that the U.S. is in a position to help address a humanitarian disaster in southern Iraq, make a positive difference in Iraq's political future, and advance American interests:
"Iraq may be on the brink of its biggest crisis since 2006, when a civil war threatened to topple its nascent democratic system. Government formation talks have dragged out as pro- and anti-Iranian factions jockey for influence. Corruption and basic governance failures have triggered mass protests—particularly in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city and primary oil-export hub. Armed militia factions are mobilizing. Iranian proxies have fired the first shots at the U.S. Embassy since 2014, showing their intent to use force to accomplish political goals. All this raises the prospect of an intra-Shiite civil war.
Such a conflict could lead to the collapse of the Iraqi state and allow Islamic State to re-emerge. It also could allow Tehran to consolidate control over the government in Baghdad while targeting American personnel throughout the country. A weak American statement telling Iran to control its proxies in response to two instances of mortars fired at U.S. facilities shows a lack of seriousness. Washington must act now to manage this crisis and deter further Iranian attacks."