The Trump administration has indicated it plans to largely abdicate a U.S. role in Iraq's political future, despite the certainty that driving the Islamic State group from its remaining stronghold in Mosul – months, if not weeks, away – starts the clock on a dangerous new era for a country on the verge of fracturing along rival warring factions.
The prospect of a reduced U.S. role leaves a vacuum in crafting a long-term political solution to reassemble Iraq. Chief among the concerns is that the country's religious and ethnic populations – minority Sunni Muslims who felt victimized by the central government in Baghdad and now fear retribution, ethnic Kurds certain to seek independence for their semiautonomous region, and a majority Shiite population thought to be under the sway of Iran – will turn on each other without a common enemy to unite their efforts.
Ongoing instability also raises the possibility that another terror network could exploit Iraq's deep dysfunction, even as the fight against the Islamic State group, or ISIS, continues in Syria, where a civil war rages and where Russia is exerting influence that can be felt across the Middle East.
Read the full article at U.S. News & World Report.