WASHINGTON – For the past four years, US military planning in Iraq has worked with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shiite Muslim who has been able to rebuild the country's army, restore sovereignty and join the United States to unite and Iran to defeat the Islamic State.
But the results of the national elections of the weekend in Iraq have torn apart the American assumptions.
Huge gains in parliament have been made by a party that must now by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose relentless resistance to the presence of US troops in Iraq was a major reason that Washington 201
The group, also known as ISIS, has largely disappeared from its occupied areas in Iraq even last year. But the military planners are aware of what happened after the US troops left in 2011, and opened up the rise of the Islamic State, which was fueled by minority Sunnis, led by the ruling Shiite government of Nuri Kamal. Maliki, the then capital, was alienated Minister
In 2014, the Islamic State rolled through Iraq, easily defeating the country's army and controlling much of its northern and western regions. That the story is not repeated is an American priority, officials from the State Department and the Pentagon said.
For the Trump administration, this means finding a way to work with Mr. Sadr. Government officials sought this week to focus on positive aspects of the election.
"Not long ago, ISIS controlled large parts of this country," said Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman. "And the fact that they were able to hold elections that were relatively free of violence is certainly a pretty amazing achievement and a testimony to the Iraqi people."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that Trump was "holding the decision of the Iraqi people."
"It is a democratic process at a time when many people doubted that the Iraqis would take charge of themselves could, "said Mattis on Tuesday.
As a young man, Mr. Sadr led a Shiite militia that targeted US troops in Iraq. He fled to Iran to study in Qom, a revered Shiite religious center, before returning to Iraq in 2011 as a cleric and shrill Iraqi nationalist. Sadr is not expected to hold an elected office in Iraq; His power comes from his pulpit.
Given Iran's excessive and year-long influence in Iraqi domestic politics, foreign policy experts said the Trump administration may have made things a bit more complicated in Baghdad. Trump's decision last week to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear program has frozen relations between Washington and Tehran following a thaw that has helped, among other things, facilitate an indirect partnership against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Iran now has no motivation for a leader in Iraq who would be favorable to the United States, "said Vali Nasr, the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
But Pentagon officials are betting that the Iran also no return of the Islamic State
There is widespread unity among the Shiite political blocs with which Mr Sadr would have to ally to form a government to continue a program of training and equipment for Iraqi security forces supported by international forces American, Italian, and Spanish advisors whose equipment is being paid by the United States, that NATO could serve as a public representative for the US-led mission to Iraq, could be a workaround for Mr. Sadr's sentiments, officials say.
the Trump government and a s This would not be the case for the first time. It was the first time that American forces had had to establish a working relationship with Iraqis once viewed as an enemy. The United States Armed Forces' partnership with Sunni insurgents, known as the Sahwa or the Awakening, against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, was a crucial turning point in the war more than a decade ago.
But the Pentagon will find its balance trading to occur in Washington. Mr. Trump has already expressed his desire to bring the American troops home from Syria soon; Officials said the president had given the Department of Defense six months to complete his mission there. The military had hoped that an American troop presence in Iraq could remain in contact with the Allied forces beyond the Syrian border.
And what would Mr. Trump do if Mr. Sadr again demands a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq?
"The Pentagon is already on the run to leave Syria," said Derek Chollet, a former Defense Department official in the Obama administration. "Who should say what happens after that in Iraq?"
Margaret Coker contributed reports from Baghdad.