The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw the last American troops from Iraq might make sense from an internal political standpoint, but it inevitably exposes the Middle East, and especially Israel, to great danger.
At first glance, United States President Joe Biden’s decision to bring home the 2,500 American troops stationed in Iraq by the end of this year seems sensible in terms of internal politics. Already during his election campaign, he promised to put an end to the long-running American tragedy.
Not only did former President George Bush, who declared the war, fail to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime and turn Baghdad into a democracy, but set in motion the violent and chaotic process of the disintegration of the Iraqi nation into various ethnic and religious components, giving a window of opportunity to Iran to expand its control in the divided country.
As such, disengaging from the region seems like a necessary step, one that would help save lives and resources. And yet, despite the clear benefits of such a move, the Biden administration, which has deprioritized the Middle East, must not ignore its possible regional impacts.
First of all, disengaging from Iraq would accelerate Iran’s efforts to take over the country (through its proxies), as Iranian militia will soon have complete freedom to act in their country and in Syria (where the US currently has 900 troops) as they please. Not to mention Lebanon, which is on the verge of collapse and at risk of being taken over by Hezbollah.
One cannot help but wonder what would become of the Abraham Accords in the absence of US military troops in the region, providing support and backing.
Moreover, withdrawing from Iraq will be a part of a more comprehensive US strategy in the region that includes, among other things, minimizing US naval presence in the Gulf, raising concern in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and even Israel.
For the latter, US disengagement from Iraq poses a clear and tangible threat. If Iran were to take Iraq over entirely, its militia would increase its activities against Israel, especially on the Syrian border.
Israel’s ability to neutralize such a threat might be undermined, with Moscow’s decision to change the rules of the game in the region, and it no longer continuing its countermeasures against Tehran.
Given that the US knows the implications of its decision on Israel, one can assume the move is a calculated one. Washington is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, and its decision to withdraw at this time might be an attempt to soften Iran’s stance in the negotiations.
Renewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and thus paving the way for a renewed relationship between the two countries, is part and parcel of Biden’s policy and has been ever since he was vice president in the Obama administration.
Therefore, even if Washington agrees to back the impending deal in a way that would provide Israel with security, it is highly doubtful that it will compensate for the damage that abandoning Iraq and renewing the nuclear deal will cause.
In light of all the above mentioned, let us look at the situation realistically and brace for the day Israel is exposed to great danger, and is in need of protecting itself.