The good news from Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Iraq for the Fourth of July is that the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing US forces to 50,000 by next month, ending the US combat role, and pulling all of its remaining forces out of Iraq by the end of next year.
That's despite pressure from hawks and neoconservatives to slow the drawdown. Of course, there is still talk about renegotiating the terms of the US withdrawal in 2011 by establishing some kind of long-term US-Iraq military agreement. Such an agreement, however, is not up to the US alone. It will also depend on what the Iraqis think, and if Iranian influence in Iraq continues to gain strength as the US departs -- as seems likely -- and if the US and Iran continue to engage in a confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program and Iran's regional role, then the likelihood of a lasting US-Iraq aliance vanishes.
In fact, Iraq has become a battleground for competing US and Iranian influence, and Iran has the upper hand.
In his visit to Iraq -- his 17th -- Biden seemed not to care who forms a government in Iraq. "He made it very clear that we have no candidates, we have no preferred outcomes, we have no plan," said an aide to Biden, on background, briefing reporters in Baghdad. Pressed repeatedly by reporters, the administration officials conducting the briefing refused to say anything about the kind of government they'd like to see take shape. All things being equal, however, it's clear that the United States would prefer that Iyad Allawi's secular, nationalist, and anti-Iran bloc, Iraqiya, have a major role, either leading the next government or in some sort of grand coalition with Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law/Dawa Party bloc. But the United States has few cards to play, and as the level of US troops declines, it will have fewer still. Iraq Link Withdrawal from Iraq will create a failed state power vacuum to be filled by regional powers diminishing U.S. primacy and influence in the region.
Gygriel 09 (Jacob, July, George H.W. Bush associate professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, Vacuum Wars the coming competition over failed states, http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=622)
Another example could arise in Iraq. If the United States fails to stabilize the situation and withdraws, or even merely scales down its military presence too quickly, one outcome could be the collapse of the central government in Baghdad. The resulting vacuum would be filled by militias and other groups, who would engage in violent conflict for oil, political control and sectarian revenge. This tragic situation would be compounded if Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two regional powers with the most direct interests in the outcome, entered the fray more directly than they have so far.
In sum, there are many more plausible scenarios in which a failed state could become a playground of both regional and great power rivalry, which is why we urgently need to dust off the traditional view of failed states and consider its main features as well as its array of consequences.
The traditional view starts from a widely shared assumption that, as nature abhors vacuums, so does the international system. As Richard Nixon once said to Mao Zedong, “In international relations there are no good choices. One thing is sure—we can leave no vacuums, because they can be filled.”6 The power vacuums created by failed states attract the interests of great powers because they are an easy way to expand their spheres of influence while weakening their opponents or forestalling their intervention. A state that decides not to fill a power vacuum is effectively inviting other states to do so, thereby potentially decreasing its own relative power.
This simple, inescapable logic is based on the view that international relations are essentially a zero-sum game: My gain is your loss. A failed state creates a dramatic opportunity to gain something, whether natural resources, territory or a strategically pivotal location. The power that controls it first necessarily increases its own standing relative to other states. As Walter Lippmann wrote in 1915, the anarchy of the world is due to the backwardness of weak states; . . . the modern nations have lived in armed peace and collapsed into hideous warfare because in Asia, Africa, the Balkans, Central and South America there are rich territories in which weakness invites exploitation, in which inefficiency and corruption invite imperial expansion, in which the prizes are so great that the competition for them is to the knife.7
The threat posed by failed states, therefore, need not emanate mainly from within. After all, by definition a failed state is no longer an actor capable of conducting a foreign policy. It is a politically inert geographic area whose fate is dependent on the actions of others. The main menace to international security stems from competition between these “others.” As Arnold Wolfers put it in 1951, because of the competitive nature of international relations, “expansion would be sure to take place wherever a power vacuum existed.”8 The challenge is that the incentive to extend control over a vacuum or a failed state is similar for many states. In fact, even if one state has a stronger desire to control a power vacuum because of its geographic proximity, natural resources or strategic location, this very interest spurs other states to seek command over the same territory simply because doing so weakens that state. The ability to deprive a state of something that will give it a substantial advantage is itself a source of power. Hence a failed state suddenly becomes a strategic prize, because it either adds to one’s own power or subtracts from another’s. Iraq Link Loss of U.S. troops will lead to multiple sectarian conflicts as well as an effort by many middle eastern countries, namely Iran and Syria, to shape Iraq as a territorial pawn shattering U.S. legitimacy.
Citing Assistant Proffessor Veysel Ayhan, June 11 2010 (Expert Warns U.S. withdrawal, http://www.theiraqidinar.com/expert-warns-us-withdrawal-may-have-dire-consequences-for-war-torn-iraq/)
Ayhan draws a pretty pessimistic sketch of the impact in 2012 of a probable withdrawal of the US from Iraq; he holds that such a withdrawal would lead to a bloody internal war and even regional warfare that will affect the entire region. “The SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] signed on Nov. 17, 2008 envisages a gradual withdrawal of American forces from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.
Therefore, if no unexpected developments take place, the American military presence in Iraq will be over by January 2012. It is obvious that the US failed to maintain security in this country; it is also obvious that the US failed to have a political, economic or military influence in Iraq. The state of instability and chaos in Iraq may result in the emergence of the need for further American protectionism.At this point, the increase of the American military presence in Gulf countries may be taken into consideration.”
Noting that the country is becoming more instable as the time for the withdrawal approaches, Ayhan asserts that the violent groups are preparing for warfare in the aftermath of the withdrawal. “The year 2012 points to serious uncertainties and dangers; the most visible threat and danger is that the country may be dragged into a state of internal warfare in a post-US period.The primary factor that will prevent the eruption of a bloody internal war is the American military presence in the country. … Therefore, 2012 may be the start of a bloody civil war that will lead to the partition of Iraq.”
Arguing that a wholesale withdrawal would not be proper, Ayhan asserts that Iraq would not be the same after such a withdrawal and adds that a UN intervention may be considered in such a case. Asked how Iraq would look if this scenario was realized , Ayhan speaks of two options: “Iraq may be divided into three, four or more parts. Or, other countries in the region may expand to conquer Iraqi territory. Obviously, this would not happen peacefully.”
Noting that both scenarios will closely affect a number of countries including Turkey, Ayhan stresses that the greatest danger will be witnessed when other countries in the region seek to influence Iraq in the fulfillment of their own interests and goals. “The fact that Iraq accused Syria after a deadly wave of attacks carried out in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iran’s influence over the Shiite groups in the country and Turkey’s attempt to open a consulate in the Kurdish region should be viewed as attempts by regional countries to maintain control and expand their sphere of influence in the country.”
Noting that the countries in the region do not have a common policy on Iraq, Ayhan stresses that the decisions taken at meetings of countries neighboring Iraq did not reflect the presence of a common resolution. Arguing that the countries in the region have conflicting interests with respect to Iraq, Ayhan further says: “For regional countries, it is hard to find a any common ground with respect to the future of Iraq. These countries have differing views and ambitions over the territorial integrity of Iraq, its constitutional, administrative and political order as well as the representation of religious sects in the political power.”
Noting that Turkey has stated its position most visibly with respect to Iraq’s future, Ayhan argues that some countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, favor the territorial integrity of the country. Asked about the stance of other actors regarding this issue, Ayhan says: “The views of Kuwait, Iran and Syria on the territorial integrity of the country are ambiguous for different reasons. The Kuwaiti regime is skeptical that a strong Iraqi government may have the intention to again take control over part of its land. Iran and Syria have some doubts on the repercussions of the creation of a separate Kurdish state, whereas they are also considering the security risks involved in the foundation of a separate Shia or Sunni state. Yemen may prefer a partitioned Iraq instead of an Iraq under Shia control. Saudi Arabia may oppose the emergence of a Shiite state in Iraq because of its Shiite minority. Iran wants a controllable and manageable Iraq. It may seek to create a weak and federal Iraq to make sure that Baghdad does not become a strong player. Saddam Hussein not only declared war against Iran and Kuwait but also threatened Syria and Turkey. Therefore, the countries in the region would not like to see Iraq as a threat again.”
Speaking on the role that Turkey would assume in this process considering that it will be affected most by the developments taking place, Ayhan says the cooperation agreement signed with the Iraqi government on July 10, 2008 and the 48 additional protocols adopted are significant for the preservation of Turkish interests. “Iran sees Turkey’s eagerness to maintain dialogue with Syria and Iraq as its ambition to expand its sphere of influence. This causes tension. Iran has viewed Iraq as a rival and a threat throughout history. Therefore, it will seek to use the opportunity it got in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003.”
Noting that a number of countries including Turkey would strongly oppose the emergence of another Shiite state in the region, Ayhan argues: “It is certain that Iraq will become a venue of sectarian clashes and ethnic conflicts in the aftermath of 2012. Despite that the American administration won the war against the Saddam regime, it failed to prevent Iraq from turning into a chaotic state. US interests in this country are not over. But obviously, it will not be able to achieve its goals by relying on coercion and military power. The stabilization of Iraq will be a duty that falls to the states in the region. However, a clash of interests of those states may lead to further tension in the region.”
The opening of a consulate in the Kurdish region by Turkey should be viewed as the start of a new policy, according to Ayhan, who argues that Turkey is seeking to develop measures against developments after 2012: “Turkey is now seeking to develop ties with Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites. This means that Turkey is eager to fill the vacuum that will be left after the US withdrawal from Iraq. Turkey wants to deliver a message that it will not remain silent vis-à-vis developments turning Iraq into a satellite state by maintaining ties with the three groups in Iraq; it is also seeking to have power to influence the probable developments in this country as well.”
Ayhan continues: “The decision of the Turkish authorities to open a consulate in Arbil may lead to the elimination of the psychological barrier between the two parties and the emergence of a greater role and sphere of influence for Turkey. In such a case, Turkey will be able to have a greater influence in the country. It is also obvious that the US has made its decision on withdrawal without achieving its goals in the country. It is impossible to foresee the consequences of a probable withdrawal; however, we do not hold the expectation that such a withdrawal will lead to a more stable era and situation in Iraq.”
Iraq Link Post American Withdrawal a massive power vacuum and power struggle will engulf Iraq and destroy American primacy and hegemony in the region.
Hemeid, 2010(Salah, July 28th ,Writer for Al-Ahram Weekly, No government but withdrawal, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1008/re6.htm)
The lingering stand-off over forming a new government in Iraq has raised questions about neighbouring countries' strategies as Iraq itself slips into deeper crisis.
Tehran's interventions in Iraq are a way of confronting Washington in a foreign context, while Sunni Arab nations and Turkey are alarmed by the prospect of Iranian and Shia domination of Iraq, and are exploiting ties with Iraqi Sunnis to justify interventions in the country.
It is no secret that the regional players are now planning for the endgame and are ready to use all possible means to fill the power vacuum that will result from the US withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the US itself has been sending conflicting signals. While American officials have repeated that they intend to stick to the withdrawal schedule, they also say that withdrawal in no way reflects a decrease in American engagement with Iraq or US commitment to the Iraqis.
It is against this background that rival Iraqi groups are continuing their political brinkmanship, showing that they are prepared to hold out for as long as necessary to secure victory.
One risk that they are all ignoring is that such brinkmanship could expose Iraq to a dangerous political vacuum as it tries to emerge from civil strife and contain its sectarian divide.
Iraq Link U.S. military presence prevents Iraq from caving in on itself.
Carpenter, Ted. (vice president for defense and policy studies at the Cato Institute) Middle East Vortex: An Unstable Iraq and Its Implications for the Region. 2009.
The United States seems committed to drawing down its forces in Iraq, with the goal of having all combat forces out of the country by the end of 2011. That is also the wish of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s government and a majority of the Iraqi people. The ﬁrst step in that process was the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq’s cities(with the exception of Mosul, where the anti- government insurgency remains potent) by 30 June 2009. It was a disturbing development, though, that a noticeable spike in violence occurred as the US forces redeployed and turned security responsibilities over to Iraqi military and police units. Experts both in the United States and in Iraq worry that the relative calm that Iraq has enjoyed since mid-2007 might not last once US troops depart. Indeed, there are serious questions about whether Iraq can be a viable state over the long run. If Iraq becomes a cockpit of instability again, as it was during the ﬁrst four years following the US invasion, the implications for the region are ominous.
U.S. presence is key to preventing Kurdish-Arab tensions from blowing up- past incidents prove.
Carpenter, Ted. (vice president for defense and policy studies at the Cato Institute) Middle East Vortex: An Unstable Iraq and Its Implications for the Region. 2009
Kurdish-Arab tensions have already grown so severe that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made an unexpected trip to Iraq to urge both sides to back away from a dangerous confrontation. General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, admitted that the Arab-Kurdish feud — especially over the status of Kirkuk — is the “number one driver of instabilities” in the country.15 Tensions in both the area around Kirkuk and in Nineveh province became so pronounced in August 2009 that Odierno suggested that US troops be deployed to create a buffer between Kurds and Arabs to prevent an explosion. Iraq extremely instable- laundry list
Carpenter, Ted. (vice president for defense and policy studies at the Cato Institute) Middle East Vortex: An Unstable Iraq and Its Implications for the Region. 2009
In addition to the fracture of Iraq caused by the existence of a de facto independent Kurdish state with ambitious territorial claims, there are serious questions about the degree of stability in the rest of Iraq. True, the carnage that afﬂicted the country following the US invasion, and which reached especially severe levels from early 2006 to mid-2007, has declined. Nevertheless, the casualty rates are still disturbingly high. Al Qaeda in Iraq, while weakened, remains a factor, and nervous Iraqi and US ofﬁcials see indications that ﬁghters are returning to some of their old haunts.22 The indigenous Sunni insurgency against the Shiite-dominated government also remains a worry. And general Shiite-Sunni sectarian tensions simmer just beneath the surface — a situation that continues to worry Obama administration ofﬁcials, in addition to their concerns about the growing Kurdish-Arab animosity.23 Even the improvement in the casualty numbers should not be overstated. According to Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior, there were 437 deaths in July, and another 1,103 Iraqis were wounded.24 Both totals were a decline from the upward trend in casualties that occurred during the ﬁrst half of 2009 (including 543 deaths in June).25 The killings are dramatically lower (by about 75 percent) than they were during the horrid period in 2006 and 2007, but Iraq is still far from being a safe and peaceful country. Given that Iraq’s population is only 25 million, even the July toll would translate into an equivalent of more than ﬁve thousand deaths from political violence in the United States — an annual rate of more than sixty thousand. Iraq is still in the throes of a civil war, albeit a relatively low-intensity one. That does not bode well for unity or even stability going forward.
Iraq Link Iran periodically tests its bounds in Iraq, aside from resentment and pure evil, iran needs oil to continue its growth. The only check is U.S. military presence. Without us our oil resources will be interrupted and iran will fill the power vacuum.
Reuteurs, Dec 18 2009 ( World’s largest international multimedia news agency, Iraq demands Iran withdraw troops from oilfield, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BH1Y920091218)
A senior engineer from Maysan Oil Company, which operates the field, said Iranian troops had taken temporary control of one of the field's seven wells, an inoperative well in a disputed border area, four or five times this year.
"Iranian forces come to this well periodically, and then at daybreak they withdraw. They are provoking us ... I don't know why this is a big deal this time," he said, on condition of anonymity.
The benchmark U.S. light crude oil future moved to a high of $74.69 per barrel at 9:14 a.m. EST (1414 GMT), up from $73.31 at 6:08 a.m. EST (1108 GMT) before the first reports.
The incident came a few days after the Iraqi Oil Ministry awarded leading global energy firms contracts to operate seven oil fields in its second tender since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Iraq, whose oil sector is scarred by years of sanctions and war, says such deals may eventually lift capacity to 12 million barrels per day, putting it nearly on par with Saudi Arabia and far above Iran's output of around 4 million barrels per day.
But as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by 2012, foreign firms must grapple with persistent violence, political feuds and legal uncertainties dogging large-scale investments.
The government has been struggling to respond to a spate of attacks, the last of which killed up to 112 last week in Baghdad, aimed at destabilizing Iraq ahead of March 7 elections.
Ties between Iraq and neighboring Iran, which fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, have improved since a Shi'ite-led government took over in Baghdad following the ousting of Sunni Arab leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Yet relations are tested in areas like eastern Maysan, just one of many flashpoints of continuing disagreement over shared borders between the majority Shi'ite Muslim neighbors.
The bilateral relationship is all the more delicate given Washington and Tehran's standoff over Iran's nuclear program and the presence of 115,000 U.S. soldiers on Iraqi soil.
U.S. officials said they were aware of the border incident but there were no U.S. forces in the area.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told al-Arabiya TV: "Iraq will not give up its oil wealth, no matter the reason."
The U.S.-based Eurasia group said in its analysis the conflict was unlikely to escalate or interrupt Iraqi oil output.
"It is likely indicative of longer term Iranian worries about the effect on oil prices of increased Iraqi oil production and it is perhaps a demonstration by Tehran that -- amid rising international pressure over Iran's nuclear program -- it retains the ability to meddle in Iraq."
Kuwait Links Troops in Kuwait key to deter invasion of Iraq