South Asia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin writes for Al Monitor on the need for US military involvement in Iraq, quoting Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab on his new report, The New Containment: Changing America’s Approach to Middle East Security, and presidential candidate and Senator Lindsey Graham from a recent Atlantic Council event:
As the United States and Iran continue efforts to reach a long-term nuclear agreement, it is becoming increasingly evident that they are tacitly aligned in a longer-term struggle against the mutual threat of Sunni extremism.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indirectly confirmed July 7 that the “boots on the ground” battling the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) are primarily forces also backed by Iran, including Shiites and Kurds.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, speaking at the Atlantic Council, suggested that the United States needs to send nearly 7,000 additional US forces to Iraq — to augment 3,500 currently there — in part to embed with Iraqi units and counter Iranian influence. Graham said he would also send an unspecified number of Americans to Syria to lead a Turkish-Saudi-Egyptian force against IS. The current US strategy of minimal ground involvement “doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of working,” Graham said.