Pentagon Official to IDEX Audience: Iran Wins if U.S. Leaves Iraq in Defeat
By WENDELL MINNICK, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates
A senior Pentagon official attending the IDEX defense exposition in Abu Dhabi said that an early U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would create a chaotic situation of which Iran would take full advantage.
“Let’s be frank. The violence, if unchecked would spread outside the borders of Iraq,” Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant U.S. defense secretary of for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, said Feb. 17 at a Janes’s conference prior to the start of IDEX. “Iran would become embolden by a U.S. withdrawal. “It would be a humiliating defeat in the struggle against terror.”
Kimmitt said that despite Iran’s nuclear weapons program and meddling in Iraq, the U.S. has no intention of using military force against Tehran.
“On Iran, we do not seek regime change nor are we spoiling for a fight,” he said. “In Iraq, Iran remains a source of instability and declaratively is providing weapons and equipment that are killing Iraqi soldiers, coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We will continue to take the necessary steps and actions to protect our soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, and so will the Iraqis themselves.”
Kimmitt warned that Iran has misjudged U.S. determination to remain in Iraq and support regional stability.
“Our commitment is enduring and our resolve to share in our common interest is long standing,” he said. “So whatever the intention of the Iranian regime the point should be understood in the near term that we maintain significant and diplomatic economic and military power to fulfill any mission required, and in the long run we will stand by our friends and our allies in the region.
“We intend to stand by our allies in this region well into the future so that they can contribute to an overall effort to contain, protect against and deter an increasingly expansionist Iran from expanding its unhelpful hegemony throughout the region.”
Kimmitt emphasized U.S. commitment to supporting the Iraqi government with a combination of political, economic and military assistance. “We remain committed to our strategic goal of a united Iraq.”