US and Europe moving towards a unified ‘Syraq’ strategy through the NATO Mission in Iraq
U.S. involvement in Syria and in Iraq is blending into a single “Syraq” entity and policy through the Nato Mission in Iraq, according to some analysts, a change that will force policy adjustments from Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The NMI commander has declared its new, long-term mandate to be a “new iteration of a long-standing relationship” between Iraq and NATO that will combine “expertise and best practice in security/defense sector reform, institution building and training and education from the entire Alliance and its partners.” The NMI is a strategically important institution for the US and the West in the region as it forms the basis for a leading cause of political conflict between Europe and the US (presence and joint operations in the region). Unlike Iraq’s earlier “coalition of the willing,” the NMI copies the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan model, distributing security costs more evenly between alliance members and more actively integrating European partners. Thus, as NATO reorients itself around Russia, especially in Syria, these NMI operations across the border in Iraq will likely strengthen political and military agreement between NATO members regarding threats in Syria. Even as the U.S. pulls out equipment and plans further troop drawdowns from Syria, the future of its coordinated action in the country, hinted at in strong statements against any Russian or Iranian role in the country, likely lies in the integrating development of the NMI.