Masked Sunni gunmen chant slogans during a protest against Iraq's Shiite-led government, demanding that the Iraqi army not try to enter the city, in Falluja

By Matt Propper

Two years after President Obama removed all U.S. troops from Iraq, the Middle-Eastern, oil abounding country is once again under siege from militants aligned with al-Qaeda. The fall of two important cities, Ramada and Falluja, bears symbolism beyond the current battle against al-Qaeda. During the U.S.’s incursion in Iraq, those two cities were key battlegrounds in which thousands of U.S. soldiers lost their lives. What took the United States years to secure, took militants weeks to capture. The militants, wearing ski masks and bearing AK-47 rifles, raised the black flag of al-Qaeda over the two cities. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Malik has been unsuccessfully trying to fend off the rebels and, recently, has decided to resort to a strategy started by the United States. Iraqi government officials have begun giving guns and cash to  Sunni tribal fighters who are battling the militants for control. They hope that these tribal leaders will help to drive the insurgents out of the cities.

Many lawmakers and other government officials in the United States have criticized the Obama administration for causing this resurgence in militant aggression by pulling all American troops out of Iraq. Senate hawks such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham argue that if Obama kept some troops in the country and removed them incrementally, this type of organized violence would not occur. In a certain sense, McCain and Graham are accurate in their assertion; perhaps a stronger U.S. presence in the country might help deter this level of turmoil. However, in 2008 Obama ran for president on the platform that he would remove all U.S. troops from a costly and seemingly unending war. This idea was widely popular with voters as demonstrated by his sizable electoral victory. As promised, President Obama stuck with his promise and brought the troops home. Though Iraq has been thrown back into chaos since the removal of the troops, there is nothing Obama could do to remedy the situation. If he did not decide to take the troops out, much of the country would be displeased as so many soldiers have died fighting with little to show for their efforts. As pessimistic and cynical as it sounds, the U.S. cannot do anything to resolve the current power struggle in the country. This is a fight that the Iraqis must wage themselves; the U.S. tenure in Iraq is over.

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