May 06, 2019

Duckworth Discusses Her First Return to Iraq Since Being Shot Down, Importance of Continued U.S. Engagement in the Region


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – At the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) today, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) discussed her first visit back to the country where she was grievously wounded in the line of duty as well as her thoughts on our nation’s strategy in the region moving forward with CSIS Middle East Program Director Dr. John Alterman. Duckworth’s remarks focused on the persistent threat posed by ISIS, the valuable role the U.S. can play in Iraq’s progress, the personal significance of her return and how Sen. John McCain’s legacy influenced her decision to return. Video of the Q&A can be found here, and a photos can be found here.

Key quotes:

“Iraq is in a precarious situation right now… ISIS is defeated in the sense that it no longer holds territory. But the personnel–those fighters–are there and I learned that many of them, actually, have been ordered to be intentionally captured so they can use some of the camps to reset.”

“I think we need to engage more, and it has to be beyond the military solution… Even though we don’t need to be the main force that’s there, we need to be there with our coalition partners. That’s on the military side. We have to engage economically as well.”

I think what we should be focused on is, what can the United States do to be a good ally to the Iraqis? I don’t want Iraq to be like a little brother to us. I want Iraq to be an independent, strong nation in the Middle East with its own strong ties across multiple nations.”

Duckworth, who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, recently led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Iraq alongside U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Angus King (I-ME). The bipartisan group of Senators travelled to Baghdad and Erbil last week, where they met with Iraq’s top leaders, American diplomats and military commanders in the region as well as Kurdish leaders. Photos from the trip are available here.

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