More than 10,000 American troops will be sent to Iraq as part of an effort to put a stop to forces of the Islamic State. The American troops will be part of a 100,000 strong force that will also include soldiers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Jordan. The announcement was made by United States Senator John McCain.
The move has been heavily criticized by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, but officials have said that the decision was “non-negotiable”. The troops will be deployed to western areas of Iraq.
McCain, along with fellow Senator Lindsey Graham, has been calling for a tripling to the current number of American troops in Iraq. The Senators also want to send an equal number of troops to fight in Syria as well.
Graham said, “The region is ready to fight. The region hates ISIS. They are coming for Sunni Arab nations. Turkey hates ISIS. The entire region wants Assad gone. So there is an opportunity here with some American leadership to do two things: to hit ISIL before we get hit at home and to push Assad out.”
McCain added, “Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, they have regional armies and they would go into the fight if we put the removal of Assad on the table. Most of the fight will be done by the region. They will pay for this war.”
Currently, the United States has roughly 3,600 troops in Iraq. This includes 100 Special Operations troops that were deployed last month to participate in combat missions that involve hostage rescue and the assassination of ISIS leaders.
However, American leaders have been reluctant to send a large ground force because of the possibility of casualties and the large sums of money involved. They are also worried about the possible political effects of what would undoubtedly be portrayed as another Western invasion of the Middle East.
However, the plan from McCain and Graham risks causing confrontation with the forces of Russia and Iraq. Both of these countries are assisting the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad. The United States and its allies have said that President Assad must be taken down.
The presence of Russia is particularly troubling, as the Russians are still fuming over a recent incident in which Turkey shot down a Russian bomber plane near the border of Turkey and Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin considered the move to be a stab in the back by Turkey.