The U.S.-Iraqi Relationship: A Healthier Partnership is Indispensable

Forging a stable strategic partnership with Iraq is one of the most critical and time sensitive security issues the Biden administration faces in the Middle East and the Gulf. There have been a number of U.S. commentaries and proposals for dealing with this challenge, but few are Iraqi analyses and presentations of possible options.

The Burke Chair is presenting such an Iraq analysis by a Senior Associate (Non-resident), Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Dr. Munqith Dagher. He is the founder and president of Al Mustakilla (IIACSS) research group which is one of the biggest private research companies in Iraq. He is also the MENA director and a board member of Gallup International. He conducted Iraq’s first-ever public opinion poll, and he has become one of the most cited sources on public opinion in Iraq and the Arab world. He holds a Ph.D. in public administration and a master’s degree in war sciences.

The report addresses the past and present failures in U.S. and Iraqi efforts to create such a strategic partnership, and it reflects his view that, “With the entry of a new administration to the White House, and after 18 years of trouble in U.S.-Iraqi relations, it is the time to revisit the main pillars of this relationship and discuss the right approach to establish a better partnership based on mutual interests of both sides.”

Dr. Dagher focuses on the critical reasons why an effective Iraqi and U.S. strategic relationship is still important, and why a U.S. presence in the Middle East has to maintain an important but tricky balance. The U.S must find ways to reduce an outdated U.S. military footprint without creating fresh insecurity. It has to do this while maintaining the level of deterrence and influence that is needed to address the key U.S. strategic interests that still remain. For many different historical and geostrategic reason, the U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) is seeking a Middle East that is:

  1. Not a safe haven or breeding ground for Jihadist terrorists

  2. Not dominated by any power hostile to the US

  3. Contributing to a stable global energy market

Key areas of the analysis address the fact that ISIS is suffering, but the threat of ISIS and extremism remains; Iraq could be dominated by Iran or a power hostile to the U.S., and Iraq plays a critical role in the global energy market.

He argues that this makes a healthier Iraqi-U.S. relationship indispensable, but that U.S. aid is needed in uniting Iraq and creating a stable partner, in helping Iraq to create a stable political system, and in helping Iraq to meet its economic challenges. He also warns that, “There is only limited time, however, to act upon these priorities. Iraq and the U.S. need to do more than talk about strategic partnership, and issue political rhetoric. They need to act now to forge a partnership that actually works.”

This report entitled, The U.S.-Iraq Relationship: A Healthier Partnership is Indispensable, is available for download at

Dr. Munqith Dagher is the CEO and founder of IIACSS research group (Al Mustakillah) in Iraq and a Gallup International board member. He conducted Iraq’s first-ever public opinion poll in 2003. Munqith holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in War Sciences. He was professor of public administration and strategic management in Baghdad, Basrah and at the National Defense University.

Munqith Dagher

Munqith Dagher

Former Senior Associate (Non-resident), Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy