U.S troops should remain in Iraq beyond this year, Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., argued in a USA Today op-ed published on Tuesday.
President Obama announced last Friday that the U.S. would end its presence in Iraq by the end of the year. Lieberman, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued on Tuesday that discussions on keeping U.S. troops in the country should be reopened.
Military leaders say Iraq is not yet secured and the Iraqi Security Forces lack critical capabilities, according to Lieberman. Every military leader with responsibilities in Iraq whom he has spoken to in recent years has said the U.S. needs to keep at least 10,000 troops in the country after 2011 to maintain its “hard-won gains,” Lieberman wrote, warning that the decision to leave presents a strategic opportunity for Iran to swoop in.
Lieberman blamed the decision on a failure by Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to “find the will or way” to agree on a deal to keep a small U.S. force in the country. But they shouldn’t stop trying to reach that agreement, he added.
“There is a world of difference… between a future in which Iraq’s inspiring but fragile democracy perseveres, versus one in which the country collapses back into civil war, becoming a failed state in the heart of the Middle East,” Lieberman wrote.