US Foreign Policy
Issue Brief

Security threats in Iraq and the impact of U.S army withdrawal

in Program

The United States forces in Iraq play a major and vital role in stabilizing the security environment in the country, hence to provide the appropriate environment to start the process of building and development. This may represent a great opportunity for Iraq in this context.

Current and future threats in Iraq

However, the situation in Iraq is facing serious threats, mainly those concerning security, including:

1.       Terrorism, represented by Al Qaida and its supporters who are still active in Iraq.

2.       Militias represented by those groups working under some Iraqi political parties and may be supported by other countries. The Mahdi Army is one of these major groups.

3.       Gangsters who formed criminal organizations who work all over the country and are involved in drugs trafficking, arms and weapons, oil and many other criminal activities became powerful in many areas in the country and may be involved with militias and other terrorist groups.

Many of these groups may be supported by neighboring countries, among them Iran and Syria. Other neighboring countries also have great interest in keeping the situation unstable in Iraq for various political, economic and security reasons.

4.       Other threats may be represented by the continuous conflicts created by some Iraqi political parties through influencing their supporters to create an unstable environment in the country. These conflicts are mainly concerned with the demonstration of the ability of each party to acquire power and wealth to achieve their interests by affecting policies and to gain advantages through future legislations.

5.       The increasing levels of unemployment as well as the deterioration of public services provided may be considered a potential threat that can lead to increasing levels of violence in the country and may accommodate the recruitment of many unemployed youth by terrorists, militias and criminal organizations.

However, the threats are increasing for the following reasons:

·           Al-Qaida leader Bin Laden has made it very clear that the way to liberate Palestine goes through Iraq, so the al Qaida terrorist actions shall be centered in Iraq in the future.

·           The Iranian action to face any American threat is also centered in Iraq, as this will create problems for the American army by increasing the violence level in Iraq to prevent any possible American attack on Iran.


The withdrawal of the U.S Army from Iraq:

The withdrawal of the American Army from Iraq can be effective in one of two cases;

1.       The Iraqi Army and other security forces are built to be strong enough to face the threats to Iraq.

2.       The threats to Iraq are weak and cannot achieve their goals in Iraq or in the area.

These two cases currently are not true yet for the following reasons:

1.       The Iraqi Army at present lacks the following important factors:

a.       Air force equipment and personnel.

b.       Marine forces

c.       Tanks and other heavy and more effective weapons.

d.       Supporting facilities such as intelligence, engineering, communications, training, medical care, etc.

2.       The Iraqi army training is not efficient and/ or sufficient in a way that could be capable of confronting terrorist acts, and is not oriented towards facing enemy forces in a proper way.

3.       The Iraqi army has been inappropriately formed, as many of those loyal to parties and militias have joined the army and police forces and proven not fully faithful to the Iraqi government, but rather more faithful to their parties, religion, sects or groups. The latest operations in Baghdad, Basra and other areas in the south have clearly pointed out this fact.

4.       It can be very well noticed that any security improvement in Iraq are considered fragile and mainly made by the efforts of U.S army; therefore any withdrawal shall worsen the situation and may permit Al Qaida to declare victory and to take over parts of the country or outside interventions that may ignite a potential civil war and regional collapse.

This situation may be critically need great effort to correct for the above reasons.



1.       The situation in Iraq is still fragile and critical security wise.

2.       The threats are still active and have different shapes and agendas.

3.       The presence and the efforts of the U.S army seems necessary now and in the future.

4.       The current and future threats facing Iraq may be considered as major threats to U.S interests of spread democracy as well as other U.S, regional and international interests.

5.       The outstanding U.S efforts in Iraq to achieve improvements in security and other developments have been highly appreciated by many parties and the public inside Iraq to the extent that many of those who previously opposed the U.S army presence in Iraq now appreciate this presence and its role in improving security in the country.

6.       The U.S army is required by Iraqis to expand efforts to improve the Iraqi forces conduct through training and providing appropriate arm supplies.


1.       The U.S army must play a major role in forming a professional Iraqi forces that can efficiently and actively facing threats and loyal to Iraq rather than sects, groups and other influences.

2.       The U.S army at the same time is required to maintain its strong and active presence to prevent any deterioration in security as well as support Iraqi forces against terrorism, militias and other criminal organizations. This presence may also prevent outside intervention in the country especially by the neighboring countries.

3.       The U.S army may be involved in civilian activities to improve the living environment in the country as this may increase the level of Iraqi supporters and cooperation with the U.S army activities in Iraq.

4.       U.S diplomatic efforts may be increased to contain and prevent hostile actions made by neighboring countries against Iraq. These diplomatic efforts may be also directed to other countries that could support Iraq politically and economically.

5.       The U.S army should expand the improvement made with some Iraqi tribes to other influential tribes and groups in a way that serves the goals and objectives.

The U.S may put greater efforts to improve services and other economical activities that lead to the improvement of living conditions among Iraqis and to decrease the levels of unemployment in the country.



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