“It has been seen by many Muslims as a war on Islam. Now, we are saying, 'We've pulled out of Iraq, we are pulling out of Afghanistan, and it's all over now.' It may be over for the politicians. But it is not over for the Muslim world,” Emma Sky said in an interview with The Guardian.
“We have to ask ourselves, what do we think this has done to their world?” she added.
Sky, a Briton, traveled to Iraq in the aftermath of the US-led invasion and was appointed civilian governor of the northern city of Kirkuk and later made political advisor to General Ray Odierno, commander of American forces in the country.
She said neither is the war over for the soldiers who have picked up physical injuries and mental scars, nor the families who have lost loved ones.
Sky argued politicians and government officials on both sides of the Atlantic should have been held responsible for the decision to go to war and the lack of strategy and planning for its aftermath - the consequences of which are still being felt.
“Nobody has been held accountable for what happened in Iraq, and there is a danger that we won't learn the right lessons, particularly related to the limitations of our power.”
“We've been fighting the war on terror for 10 years" said Sky. “And we were slow to realize that our actions were creating more enemies.”
She also touched upon how Western politicians have sought to point their finger at other factors and players for the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan to “distract from our own responsibility for causing some of the problems by our presence and the policies we pursued.”
She said the focus on building up security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan was not the right priority.
“We think it is about us, and it is about our security. But in the end, it is about their politics … success in Iraq was always going to be defined by politics. We needed a political solution, a pact, a peace.”
“I had worked in places overseas for a long time, but I had not worked with people who were then killed - sometimes due to their association with me. That first year in Kirkuk, I spent a lot of time with the provincial council and about a quarter of the people on the council were killed.”
“There was always that sense that we had come into their lives and said, 'Who is going to stand up and serve their province?' and they had come forward, and some of them had been killed. If we had never come into their lives that might never have happened.” Sky concluded.