Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy
Corporate nameEuropean Commission / Directorate General for External Relations
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. Ongoing 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 considering a number of different “Iraq scenarios,” ranging from the resolution of outstanding Iraqi political disputes and the successful consolidation of Iraq’s government and security forces, to a return of sectarian violence and the potential for greater intervention by Iraq’s neighbors. Understanding regional perspectives on Iraq and the potential nature and likelihood of regional responses to various scenarios will be essential for Members of the 110th Congress as they consider the future of U.S. policy, including post-troop surge tactical options, the proposed U.S.-Iraq security agreement, 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. For more information on Iraq and regional perspectives, see CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security; CRS Report RS22079, The Kurds in Post-Saddam Iraq; and CRS Report RS22323, Iran’s Activities and Influence in Iraq. This report will be updated to reflect major developments.