The War on Terror Spectator

Where Are the Good Guys in Iraq?

How to break down people—and borders—in country wrought by violence?

By 7.25.14

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A search for the good guys and bad guys of Iraq commenced during a hearing in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with representatives from the Departments of State and Defense on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was the first "bad guy," in the view of Congress. A few representatives are still making thinly veiled accusations about incompetence on the part of Bush for sending troops into Iraq, or Obama for taking them out, but most seem to agree that Maliki is out of favor. 

On the other hand, several congressmen expressed support for the Kurds, both in general and in their desire for an independent state. One remarked that no American troops were lost in the Kurdish territories during the Iraq war, thanks to the friendliness of the Kurds. 

Warm wishes were also expressed towards Jordan, while any partnership with Iran was roundly condemned. 

Lest a deafening silence emanate from Iraq's other neighbors, the Gulf states were weighed and measured. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been in constant communication with United States officials, because, of course, American troops are based there. Saudi Arabia, following a visit from John Kerry, agreed to send $500 million for humanitarian aid. This is a much-needed contribution, as 1.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes already. 

The case of Qatar remains open, as even Congress does not seem to know why the Qatari government bought $11 billion worth of American missiles and attack helicopters earlier this month, as reported by Business Insider. They have not disclosed any plan to use the high-tech bling to fight ISIS, at least not to the Department of Defense. 

Even the British Empire was trotted out for judgment. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California derisively called the current borders of Iraq "a present our British friends gave us when they exited as world leaders." By this he meant—and others agreed with him—that splitting Iraq into three states, one each for the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites, no longer seemed like a travesty.

He faced opposition. The Department of Defense insisted that Iraq's ills require a regional solution. Such a split might appear to benefit the Kurds, but it would give them enemies that their Peshmerga army could not defend against. A completely independent Kurdistan would have Iran, Syria, and Turkey as its neighbors, and while Turkey has been peaceful thus far, it is by no means without opinion on the Kurdish issue.

Besides that, defeating ISIS will require group cooperation. Several tribes have already tried and failed to defeat ISIS on their own, and been put down fairly brutally. 

The Department of State remains committed to a "functional federalism," which is already part of Iraq's constitution. Iraq's proposed government is of the parliamentary variety, meaning it must be built one agonizing step at a time, and ISIS attacked right in the middle of the process. With the Shiite prime minister—Maliki—in place, the Sunni speaker of the house was appointed on Wednesday. The Kurds, in keeping with their reputation for efficiency, appointed a veteran Kurdish politician as president on Thursday. 

The formation of this government is by the will of the people, as the election turned out 14 million voters for a 62 percent turn-out rate. This even included participation from the Nineveh Plain, where voters were threatened with death by ISIS.

Those 14 million voters may be the closest thing to "good guys" that can be found in Iraq. 

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About the Author

Lucy Schouten is an editorial intern at The American Spectator. She is a senior studying journalism, Arabic, and Middle East issues at Brigham Young University in Utah. She can be reached via Twitter @lucyjcomms.