December 19, 2012

Revitalizing the Partnership: The United States and Iraq A Year After Withdrawal

My CNAS colleagues Melissa Dalton and Nora Bensahel published a policy brief recently assessing the state of U.S. policy toward Iraq a year after U.S. military forces completed their withdrawal from the country. Although U.S. policy toward Iraq has been drifting since the withdrawal, Dalton and Bensahel argue in Revitalizing the Partnership: The United States and Iraq a Year after Withdrawal that the United States has strategic interests in a strong, unified and sovereign Iraq. 

Among some of the common interests shared by Iraq and the United States include Iraq’s continued progress in producing the country’s oil resources. According to Dalton and Bensahel:

Iraq’s substantial petroleum resources could rejuvenate the country’s economy if Iraq’s leaders can navigate the dispute between the KRG and the central government on oil-rich territory and enact critical hydrocarbon legislation. Iraq possesses an estimated 43 billion barrels of crude oil, the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, and it surpassed Iran in terms of output in July. Iraq’s output could stabilize or agitate the global market, directly affecting the U.S. economy in the near term, although the United States may be less vulnerable to shocks as additional domestic oil resources come on line. Iraqi oil exports could help offset the negative impact on the global market of oil sanctions on Iran (as exports from Saudi Arabia have), but such exports may face stiff pressure from Iranian allies in Iraq.