Monday, September 19, 2011

US Foreign Policy in Post-SOFA Iraq

The end of 2011 will mark a watershed in U.S.-Iraqi relations. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the United States and Iraq signed in December 2008 calls for all American forces to leave Iraq by December 31, 2011. While it is still unclear whether U.S. troops will remain in Iraq beyond this year, there is little doubt that U.S.-Iraqi relations will undergo significant change. What will that change look like? Will it mean a substantial decline in U.S. influence in Iraq? In light of Iraq’s strategic importance both in the Middle East, and to U.S. regional interests, as well as the importance of its continued efforts at democratization, what form should U.S. policy take after the drawdown of U.S. troops?

U.S. policy in post-SOFA Iraq will need to focus on five main areas of mutual interest to both countries, all of which are interrelated. Their focal points include: security, governance and institution building, democracy promotion, economic growth and development, and regional, bi-lateral relations. As a proviso, the United States will need to be sensitive to the legacy of tensions that developed with Iraq following the 2003 invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein’s Ba'thist regime. An effective U.S. foreign policy will require treading softly as it pursues its national interests in Iraq.

The following article was published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute. It can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

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