Obama rebuffs Iraqi government request for US air attacks on terrorists
Iraq is splintering into at least 3 pieces and president Obama hasn't lifted a finger to help
For several months, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been begging the US for manned or unmanned air strikes on the staging areas for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces. These are the terrorists who have now captured 4 cities and are headed for Baghdad. President Obama has refused. What we may see in the next few days in Iraq is the government fleeing Baghdad and the Sunni terrorists holding a large chunk of the country, in addition to territory they control in next door Syria.
Boundary lines in the Middle East are being redrawn while the US sits on the sidelines.
Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, last year floated the idea that armed American-operated Predator or Reaper drones might be used to respond to the expanding militant network in Iraq. American officials dismissed that suggestion at the time, saying that the request had not come from Mr. Maliki.
By March, however, American experts who visited Baghdad were being told that Iraq’s top leaders were hoping that American air power could be used to strike the militants’ staging and training areas inside Iraq, and help Iraq’s beleaguered forces stop them from crossing into Iraq from Syria.
“Iraqi officials at the highest level said they had requested manned and unmanned U.S. airstrikes this year against ISIS camps in the Jazira desert,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst and National Security Council official, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and who visited Baghdad in early March. ISIS is the acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the militant group is known.
As the Sunni insurgents have grown in strength those requests have persisted. In a May 11 meeting with American diplomats and Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, Mr. Maliki said he would like the United States to provide Iraq with the ability to operate drones. But if the United States was not willing to do that, Mr. Maliki indicated he was prepared to allow the United States to carry out strikes using warplanes or drones.
In a May 16 phone call with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Maliki again suggested that the United States consider using American air power. A written request repeating that point was submitted soon afterward, officials said.
Some experts say that such American military action could be helpful but only if Mr. Maliki takes steps to make his government more inclusive.
“U.S. military support for Iraq could have a positive effect but only if it is conditioned on Maliki changing his behavior within Iraq’s political system,” Mr. Pollack said. “He has to bring the Sunni community back in, agree to limits on his executive authority and agree to reform Iraqi security forces to make them more professional and competent.”
Also, the Kurds have moved into the vacuum created when Iraqi forces fled and taken the oil center of Kirkuk. The Kurds have made no secret of their desire for a fully independent state and the oil revenue from Kirkuk is an excellent means to fund such a venture.
Iraq is much to blame for their predicament. They refused to compromise on a new status of forces agreement, insisiting that any American soldier accused of breaking the law be tried in Iraqi courts. That just wasn't going to happen, but many observers believe President Obama cut the negotiations off prematurely. The consequence of that failure was that all American forces were withdrawn in 2011, instead ofd a residual force being left behind to continue training the Iraqi military.
By the looks of things, they could have used our expertise. The Iraqi army has collapsed.
And as the Times notes, Maliki's Shia dictatorship has excluded Sunni's from government jobs, the military and police, and has demonstrated unrelenting hostility to them. ISIS recruiting has found fertile ground in Sunni Iraq, and Maliki is paying for his religious fanaticism and short sightedness.
Long ago, it was proposed that Iraq be divided into three separate countries; one for the Kurds, one for the Sunnis, and one for the Shias. Most military and diplomatic experts at the time scoffed at the notion.
Now it appears that this nightmare scenario is coming true. Anyone want to bet when the Kurds are going to give back Kirkuk to the Baghdad government? Or if the terrorists will even bother to negotiate better terms for the Sunnis with Maliki?
We are witnessing a terrorist state rising from the ruins of Iraq. And using the resources they've already captured - much if it US military equipment - the ISIS may take the fight to Bashar Assad in Syria as well.
The Taliban poised for an Afghanistan takeover when we leave. Pakistan under seige from terorists. Syria and Iraq in flames. And President Obama surveys the world and can only sit back and wait for the world community to lead the way.
Military force isn't always the answer. Except when it is. It may already be too late to retreive the situation in Iraq. But don't worry. Obama will blame Bush for everything and he will emerge unscathed; befuddled, but unscathed.