The Abadi government in Iraq already has enough reasons to be pessimistic about their chances of beating ISIS and reunification of the country afterwards, since they lose seemingly every major battle against ISIS. Analysts are increasingly concerned, however, that pessimistic comments out of the US are going to really weigh on them.
Testifying to the House Armed Services Committee last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered a pretty negative assessment on the Iraqi military. But the real eye-opener for some was the revelation within his comments that the Pentagon is already opening planning for the contingency that Iraq will never be reunified at all.
Though the US is still operating under the assumption that ISIS, as such, will eventually be defeated, they see it entirely possible that the post-ISIS Iraq will mean the Shi’ite-dominated existing government will lose the Sunni Arab west as well as the Kurdish north to two separate independence pushes.
And while the Obama Administration has talked up how important Iraqi unity is to them in the past, Carter didn’t seem particularly bothered by the possibility, saying that the US would eagerly “enable” the militaries of all three of the Iraqis “if they’re willing to partner with us.”
This fueled warnings from some analysts that the Shi’ite-dominated government is going to see this as the US “backing away” from their previous pledges to support unity. Everyone has obviously known Kurdish secession was going to remain an issue after the ISIS war, and that the treatment of the Sunni Arab minority would as well, but this is the first time the US government is willing to admit as much, which is undercutting their narrative that the war is all going to plan.