A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Donald Trump to continue U.S. support in Iraq following a “forthcoming” ousting of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the country.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), penned a letter Monday asking Trump to “continue working with Iraq’s leaders to preserve their country’s unity and ensure its stability.”
The letter comes following Trump’s first meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
“We write to you united in our desire to see the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people seize the opportunity of the forthcoming defeat of ISIS on the battlefield,” the lawmakers write. “Pushing ISIS out of Iraq has united its people around a common cause. Now, that sense of unity must turn to rebuilding the country.”
Iraqi forces are in the midst of a battle for Mosul, the country’s second largest city, where ISIS has held ground for nearly three years. A defensive to retake the city was launched in October with support from the U.S.
Many have questioned what will happen to Iraq and its government once ISIS is pushed out.
A stable Iraq “requires a plan for decentralizing some functions of the government, disbanding Iranian-aligned militias, addressing the humanitarian needs of Iraq’s community, and committing to a program of reconciliation,” the letter states.
“We should be ready to support Prime Minister Al-Abadi as he moves forward with a plan to reassure all Iraqis of their inclusion in a unified, federal Iraq,” the senators write. “In order to provide this assurance, we should be prepared to assist Iraq in a program of decentralization, reconciliation, and security sector reform.”
The lawmakers ask Trump to “take the lead in building greater public support for our strategic objectives in Iraq,” as well as “continue supporting Iraq’s security forces so that they can partner with U.S. forces on counterterrorism.”
Further, the senators ask for an immediate response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq by committing “significant energy and resources to stabilize and secure areas liberated from ISIS, and assist Iraq’s displaced communities in returning to their homes.”
ISIS or other extremist groups could return to Iraq if the displaced communities are not helped, the lawmakers add.
Fourteen additional lawmakers signed the letter, including Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).