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'It’s Not Too Late to Reengage With Iraq'

3:45 PM, Jun 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Ryan Crocker, writing in the Washington Post:

The news from Iraq is, quite frankly, terrifying. And it was utterly predictable.

I have been saying for months that we must do everything we can to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan, Lebanon and especially Iraq — to ensure that the al-Qaeda contagion in Syria does not spread. It has. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now occupies much of the area between Kurdistan and Baghdad. Although the capital is unlikely to fall into its hands, ISIS has effectively established a radical Islamic state.

We would be foolish to think that ISIS will not plan attacks against the West now that it has the space and security to do so. This is a more formidable force than Osama bin Laden’s group that brought us 9/11. Its fighters are experienced, completely committed to their cause, well armed and well financed. As many as 2,000 of them hold Western passports, including U.S. ones, so there’s no need for visas. This is global jihad, and it will be coming our way.

We would be similarly foolish to deny the role that the United States played in Iraq’s unraveling. Like it or not, we are hard-wired into the Iraqi political system. The surge in U.S. military forces that began in 2007 succeeded in stabilizing the country in large part because it was accompanied by intensive, U.S.-led diplomatic activity that produced essential compromises among Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities. Yet as we’ve disengaged, the divisions we once bridged have widened and given militants the room they need to maneuver.

Whole thing here.

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