Bilal Y. Saab, senior fellow for Middle East Security with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, provides his perspective on the US role in the Iraq crisis, what’s at stake for US national security interests, and what it will really take to stabilize the situation.
Given Iran’s influence on Iraq, Saab answers the question: why should the United States care?
“Containing the civil war in Syria has been an enormous challenge to neighboring countries and US partners. So, if Iraq descends into total chaos, containing two contiguous civil wars simultaneously would be nearly impossible. While the United States benefits from a weakened and overstretched Iran that is trying to save its Syrian and Iraqi allies in Damascus and Baghdad respectively, further instability in the region, characterized by security vacuums and greater expansion of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) , threatens US interests, the security of US allies and partners, and possibly the US’s domestic security, should ISIL establish a solid presence throughout Iraq and Syria and start planning for global terrorist operations. Last but certainly not least, greater Middle East instability increases the price of oil, which will hurt a still fragile US and global economy.”