Military Intervention Alone Won't Stop Terrorism

By Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The rejection of US, regional or international intervention in Iraq is a subject that has almost become more interesting in Iraq than the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

The politicians, the clergy, the media and analysts have been busy during the past few weeks trying to assert that Iraq does not need troops on the ground to fight IS and that Iraqi troops backed by Shiite and Sunni volunteers are capable of defeating the organization.

These assertions would have been normal had it not been for their repeated and almost daily recurrence, which raised questions about the motives behind them. Will Iraq be exposed to pressure to accept the presence of foreign troops on its land? Where do these pressures come from? Are these repeated assurances related to facts on the ground, in terms of operations, regional balances or domestic calculations?

The battle to liberate Jurf Al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, came in turn as new evidence that Iraq does not need such an intervention, and that the only required intervention is providing weapons to the Iraqi forces and securing air coverage for their movements.

The ground intervention — needed or not — is definitely a decision that the Iraqi authorities can make alone, and this decision is supposed to be based on accurate military estimates on the ground and a thorough examination of the facts and basic needs in the battlefields.

Still, the intervention rejection does not imply a rejection of help on the ground, especially given that the United States had sent Baghdad dozens of advisers at the end of June as a quick response to security developments that led to the fall of Mosul into the hands of IS on June 9.

At the time, the arrival of US military experts raised no sensitivity in Iraq, as there were even entreaties to have more experts sent.

This means that a sort of confusion must have occurred in the understanding of ground intervention and its limits. The intervention of US Apache war helicopters in ground battles necessarily implies the need for staging bases relatively close to fighting positions. It also means those helicopters need accurate information provided by advisers on the ground.

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