Iraq Vet Urges Obama Not to Send Troops

Only Member of Congress to serve in Both Iraq Wars Urges Caution

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Washington, DC, June 23, 2014 | comments

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that he suspend sending any U.S. military personnel to assist the Iraqi Army until the U.S. is successful in putting pressure on the Iraqi government to establish a process of political reconciliation with the disaffected Sunni Arab and Kurdish minority populations in Iraq.   Last week, President Obama put forward a plan to send up to 300 U.S. military advisors to assist the Iraqi army and to assess the situation on the ground with the Iraqi army and their ability to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led opposition forces.  Coffman is a Marine Corps combat veteran and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq Wars.

“The only feasible solution is a political reconciliation.  Any further U.S. military assistance must be strictly preconditioned on a fundamental change in the Iraqi government, which will send a clear message to both the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds that they will have a voice in the formation of a new government and their respective provinces will receive an equitable distribution of the oil wealth of the country,” wrote Coffman in his letter.

According to Coffman, the areas of Iraq that have fallen are the Sunni-dominated communities which are deeply opposed to the Shia-led government and that the alliance between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the local Sunni Arab insurgents can be broken up with the right policies coming out of Baghdad.  In the letter, Coffman referred to the U.S. experience in Iraq when the Sunni Arab insurgents were allied with Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) but then turned against them when they were hopeful about their future in the country and grew to understand that their agenda and that of AQIZ were very different.

“The areas of Iraq that have fallen are the Sunni-dominated communities which are deeply opposed to the Shia-led government in Baghdad and have temporarily aligned themselves with ISIS, just as they did with  Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) when U.S. forces were in the country.  However, this was not a natural alliance.  Once the Sunni Arabs saw hope for a future in an inclusive pluralistic Iraqi government, they turned against the radical Islamist forces that were terrorizing their communities and imposing beliefs that were objectionable to local tribal and religious leaders,” wrote Coffman.

Coffman stressed throughout his letter that the conflict is a sectarian one and any U.S. military assistance provided the Iraqi government, without meeting the preconditions necessary to form a foundation for political reconciliation would be counterproductive and send the wrong message to both sides in the fighting.   A victory by conventional military forces will merely push opposition forces underground where they can wage a guerilla war without end.  Only a political solution can eventually end the fighting and bring the country back together.

“Mr. President, the time is now to put pressure on the Iraqi government to change.  That is our only hope.  Sending a contingent of U.S. military personnel, no matter how small, will be counterproductive to that goal.  Our presence will send the wrong message to the Malaki government that we will support them despite what they have done and continue to do to destroy the country by alienating the minority populations of Iraq,” concluded Coffman in his letter.

The letter to President Obama can be found here

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