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Corker Expresses Optimism Regarding Mission to Defeat ISIS in Iraq

WASHINGTON – After returning from a trip to the Middle East last week, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing on the U.S. plan to defeat ISIS, focusing on Iraq after the operation to liberate Mosul. Last week, Corker visited Iraq and Lebanon to meet with U.S. and foreign officials to assess progress in the fight against ISIS and U.S. efforts to strengthen regional stability. The committee heard testimony today from Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute and Hardin Lang of the Center for American Progress.

“I spent part of last week in Iraq, and I think it is quite clear that ISIS will soon lose all of its territory in Iraq,” said Corker. “American support has been crucial, but the Iraqis are liberating their own country. Their success is what brings us to the topic of today’s hearing – what happens after ISIS.”

Corker expressed “reason for a degree of optimism in Iraq” but acknowledged the forces that gave rise to ISIS remain. He cited the need for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to deliver on commitments to decentralize the government, implement political reforms, and maintain control of the Iranian-backed Shia militias.

“With Iraqi elections coming in 2018, I think the big question is whether Iraq can unify behind their effort to rid the country of ISIS and finally move forward politically,” added Corker.

He also pointed to the importance of continued U.S. support to help Iraqis maintain the gains made against ISIS.

“For us, I think the questions focus on what steps we can take to ensure Iraq has the best possible chance of success. Part of that is a longer-term security commitment to Iraq. Another part is the longer-term political commitment,” said Corker.

Click here for complete testimony and video footage of the hearing.