Carter: Sectarianism Root of Iranian Presence in Iraq

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told House appropriators on Wednesday the quickest way to defeat ISIS in Iraq is to promote a multi-sectarian government. “What created the vacuum and opportunity for [ISIS] in Iraq was the re-emergence of sectarianism,” said Carter during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel. “Going forward, what we’re trying to support, including in our train and equip mission, is a strong, multi-sectarian government of Iraq.” Although Carter quickly acknowledged that’s not “a sure thing,” he said it’s the US’ “objective” and “hope.” HAC-D Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) questioned the Defense Department’s plans in Iraq, saying, “Hope is not a plan.” Carter also noted that sectarianism was the “root of the Iranian presence in Iraq,” saying he “absolutely” shares Frelinghuysen’s concerns “about the role of Iran in Iraq and the wider region.”