Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement today in response to the Administration’s announcement that it will send additional support to Iraq:
Sending additional trainers and advisors to Iraq is a prudent step and may help to accelerate the efforts to field additional Iraqi forces, which could improve the tactical situation in Iraq. Progress against ISIL will be difficult unless there is an able and willing domestic fighting force that can take back territory from ISIL and we should continue to work with the Iraqis to develop that force.
However, long-term success in Iraq must be built upon a political system and fighting force that represents the interests of all Iraqis, not just the Shi’a. While it is important that we continue to train and equip the Iraqis, political leadership in Iraq must address the shortfalls of its governing system or large portions of the country will remain isolated and unlikely to fight for the government in Baghdad. The underlying problems in Iraq, and those that must be fixed to defeat ISIL and extremism in Iraq in the long run, can only be fixed by reconciliation among the ethnic and sectarian factions and by building an inclusive, representative, and effective government. Unless all factions feel that they have a stake in the future of Iraq, they will not fully participate in the fight against ISIL and for the future of a unified Iraq.
In the short-term, the additional trainers and efforts to speed the delivery of equipment are good steps. But we must seriously evaluate the willingness of the Iraqis, and particularly the Shi’a politicians in Iraq, to build an inclusive Iraq, and we must be prepared to rethink our efforts in Iraq if they are not.