Gulf Roundtable: From Soldiers to Diplomats: the U.S. Civil-Military Transition in Iraq
GCC concerns about Iranian influence in Iraq are “overplayed,” according to Mark Matthews, former Director of Strategy, Plans and Assessment for U.S. Forces in Iraq. While Matthews admitted that there is “a significant degree of Iranian influence inside Iraq,” he said that “Iraqis are Iraqis,” and the key to achieving the strong and stable Iraq that is vital to the security of both the United States and Gulf countries will be in successfully integrating Iraq into a regional Gulf security architecture. This will require the United States to play a “long game” in Iraq, Matthews said, and in addition, to understand how the U.S. relationship with Iraq relates to the United States’ strategic relationship with the GCC states. From the U.S. perspective, the first step in this long-term strategy is to transition from a military-led to an Embassy-led U.S. presence in Iraq. Matthews gave an account of the types of transitions that U.S. civil-military planning will have to navigate under the new Iraqi government at a Gulf Roundtable hosted by the CSIS Middle East Program on December 14, 2010.