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Sending More Troops To Iraq.

The increase in military force will drag the United States more deeply into a war reminiscent of 2007 troops surge in Iraq

IT'S hard not to draw parallels between the Obama administration's decision to deploy 450 troops to Iraq's Anbar Province and the effort to empower Sunni fighters during the 2007 troop surge that became known as the"Awakening." And it's hard not to be sceptical that the latest move, which appears to be a micro version of the old one, will change Iraq's dysfunctional politics any more than its predecessor.

The escalation of the American military effort in Iraq comes after a jarring setback in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which fell to the Islamic State last month. Expelling the group from the city is seen as an urgent priority because it lies just 70 miles from Baghdad. The city is also symbolically powerful for American veterans because it was among the deadliest battlefields in the war that began with the American invasion in 2003.

The tactic could be effective in the short run. The Americans will try to vet and train Sunni Arab tribesmen to fight in concert with conventional units of the beleaguered Iraqi Army. In the past, American troops have played an essential trust-building role when they've sought to get Iraqi factions that are suspicious of each other to work together.

But any victories will be short-term as long as the Shiite-dominated political elite in Baghdad continues to disenfranchise Sunnis at every turn. Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, a Shiite politician, is far less overtly sectarian than his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al Maliki. But he is just one of many power brokers in the capital, where influence continues to be wielded primarily by Shiite leaders with access to cash and the loyalty of militias.

During the troop surge of 2007, which included roughly 30,000 troops, American commanders argued that empowering Sunni tribesmen, and beating back insurgent groups, would give politicians in Baghdad breathing room to govern more inclusively. But they have consistently demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to do that.

The new troops will bring the American force in Iraq to 3,550. With each increase, the United States is being dragged more deeply into a war that lawmakers have been unwilling to authorise formally. And each step makes Congress's irresponsibility more outrageous.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jun 14, 2015
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