Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy [December 1, 2008]   [open pdf - 515KB]

"Iraq's neighbors have influenced events in Iraq since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, and developments in Iraq have had political, economic, and security implications for Iraq's neighbors and the broader Middle East. Declining levels of violence in Iraq and discussion of options for modifying U.S. policy toward Iraq are fueling consideration of Iraq's future and the current and potential policies by Iraq's neighbors. Policymakers and observers are now considering several potential 'Iraq scenarios,' ranging from the resolution of outstanding Iraqi political disputes and the successful consolidation of Iraq's government and security forces, to a competition among Iraq's neighbors for influence in Iraq or the return to widespread civil violence. Understanding regional perspectives on Iraq and the potential nature and likelihood of regional policies toward Iraq will be essential for Members of the 111th Congress as they consider the future of U.S. policy, including troop withdrawal options, the implementation of U.S.-Iraq security agreements, and annual appropriations and authorization legislation. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq released in August 2007 assessed that 'Iraq's neighbors will continue to focus on improving their leverage in Iraq in anticipation of a Coalition drawdown.' The NIE identified Iranian assistance to armed groups and the 'reluctance' of Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors to support the Iraqi government as particularly problematic. This report provides information about the current perspectives and policies of Iraq's neighbors; analyzes potential regional responses to continued insurgency, sectarian and ethnic violence, and long-term stabilization; discusses shared concerns and U.S. long-term regional interests; and reviews U.S. policy options for responding to various contingencies."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33793
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