The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan warned that Iran’s involvement in Iraq “would be about the worst thing I could imagine, from the point of view of U.S. interest.”
Iran is insisting that it’s the only country serious about going after ISIS, backing Shiite militias to move in on ISIS strongholds.
“This is a thrust into the heart of Sunni Iraq, Anbar Province, the citadel of Sunniism in Iraq, if you will,” Ryan Crocker told CNN. “I cannot imagine anything more carefully calculated to permanently split this country apart, the country of Iraq apart, than a Shia-led military effort into a completely Sunni area.”
Iran even named their operation after Imam Hussein, a venerated Shiite figure, to spite the Sunnis.
Crocker said the key question to ask after the fall of Ramadi is where is the United States.
“I would simply note that Iraqi forces have been fighting out there for the last 16 months, since the beginning of last year. The city is almost fallen on a number of occasions. They’ve held on with their fingernails,” the ambassador said. “And I think we need to take that into account.”
“I think there are real questions about leadership and generalship in the Iraqi security forces. And I would ask, where are we? We used to be able to make a difference in decisions on command and control. I would suggest that part of the problem that Iraq is facing today is because we have been missing in action,” the continued.
“There is a very complex situation out there. What I am saying is that we have shown we can make a difference when we bring our influence together. This is ultimately a political situation, a political struggle. The politics are pretty badly messed up right now. We can make a difference in that. We’re not making that difference.”
Crocker stressed that “sustained engagement is what we need.”
“We have not had that for the last few years. We need it now. You know, a phone call is important. A visit is even more important,” he said. “And a string of visits and phone calls to demonstrate that this is of critical importance to the U.S., that we are going to make a difference, we are going to use our influence is what we need to demonstrate now.”