Iraq seeks US help amid growing violence

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Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
A resurgence of violence and a renewed threat from al-Qaida have recently revived flagging U.S. interest in Iraq, officials said as Baghdad asked for new help to fight extremists less than two years after it forced American troops to withdraw.

Faced with security crises across the Mideast, North Africa and Asia, the White House largely has turned its attention away from Iraq since U.S. forces left in 2011. But the country has been hit with deadly bombings at a rate reminiscent of Iraq’s darkest days, stoking new fears of a civil war. More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in terror-related attacks in July, the deadliest month since 2008.

The violence has spurred Baghdad to seek new U.S. aid to curb the threat, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. He said a U.S. assistance package could include a limited number of advisers, intelligence analysis and surveillance assets – including lethal drones.

“There is greater realization in the Iraq government that we should not shy away from coming and asking for some help and assistance,” Zebari told reporters Friday in Washington.

He described U.S. interest in Iraq after the 2011 troop withdrawal as “indifferent, completely” but said that seemed to shift as the White House realized al-Qaida’s resurrection there.

“Recently I noticed, and during this visit specifically, there is a renewed interest because of the seriousness of the situation and the challenges,” Zebari said. “I think that is because of the threat of terrorism, the threat of the renewal of al-Qaida and its affiliates has become a serious, serious concern to the U.S.”

The American troops left Iraq in December 2011 as required under a 2008 security agreement. Both countries tried to negotiate plans, but failed, to keep at least several thousand U.S. forces in Iraq beyond the deadline to maintain security. But the proposal fell through after Baghdad refused to give the troops immunity from legal charges, as Washington demanded.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed, and American taxpayers spent at least $767 billion during the nearly nine years of war in Iraq.

Zebari attributed the insurgency’s comeback to its partnerships with al-Qaida fighters in neighboring Syria and outlawed Baath Party extremists in Iraq’s south. Intelligence experts have described the terror group’s footing in Iraq and Syria as a new al-Qaida hub in the Mideast, one that has sought for years to underscore Baghdad’s inability to protect its people.

Most of the attacks in Iraq target government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims and neighborhoods. A senior U.S. administration official this week said the number of suicide bombings in Iraq has more than tripled over the last months, and it’s believed that most of the attackers are coming from Syria.

“The security situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly and is of significant concern,” Sen. Bob Corker, top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said this week after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials during a trip to Baghdad and Irbil, the Kurdish capital in Iraq’s north.

“A United States foreign policy that does not recognize this will be very problematic,” said Corker.

Distracted by a civil war in Syria, a policy pivot to Asia, growing extremism in North Africa and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the White House put Iraq on the back burner.

Egypt, once reliably stable, has disintegrated over deadly street riots and attacks that killed more than 600 people this week during protests over the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Jordan, a key U.S. ally, is threatening to collapse under financial strain caused, in large part, by more than 1 million refugees who have crossed into the country from Syria. The U.S. is also leading peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, and watching a growing threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. A threat from al-Qaida led to the closing of 19 diplomatic posts across the region and in Africa last week.

“That’s a pretty large agenda,” said Jon Alterman, a Mideast expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Iraq is no longer viewed as central to everything the U.S. cares about in the Middle East. But Iraq is still relevant to a wide range that the U.S. cares about.”

In the 20 months since the troop withdrawal, the U.S. has sought to stay out of Iraqi affairs and engage with its government as Washington would with any other nation. A majority of Americans agreed with that approach, and 58 percent of U.S. adults said in a Washington Post-ABC poll taken in March that the Iraq war had not been worth the fight.

Still, U.S. officials say they remain actively involved in Iraq, and have quietly stepped up diplomatic efforts since March, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad for the first time in his new post. They largely have focused on ensuring Sunni Muslims are included in Iraq’s Shiite-led government, and have urged Shiite leaders to resist retaliating to the Sunni insurgency’s attacks in what State Department spokesman Mike Lavallee described Friday as “quite intensive” diplomacy.

But the engagement also has centered on making sure Iraq’s government remains independent from the Shiite government in Iran and staying out of the civil war in Syria, where Sunni Muslim rebels are seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, an Alawite. Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Military.com

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8 responses to “Iraq seeks US help amid growing violence”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    I don’t know why … but every time I see that ‘pic’ the first thing I think is ‘Oink’ … although, I know I shouldn’t go simply on appearances. Naughty me.
    Ah well …. it’s better than the ‘cold dead hand flag’ pic that keeps popping up.

    1. Hannibal Avatar

      It reminds me of famine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    I don’t know why … but every time I see that ‘pic’ the first thing I think is ‘Oink’ … although, I know I shouldn’t go simply on appearances. Naughty me.
    Ah well …. it’s better than the ‘cold dead hand flag’ pic that keep popping up.

    1. Hannibal Avatar

      It reminds me of famine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Since Iraq is allied with Iran, it should call on Iran to help it since Iran has benefited the most from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Malaki government in Iraq. The U.S. is finished with Iraq.

    1. wargame1 Avatar

      Good point. Iraqi Shia regime is secretly allied with Russia and its not that secret any more when it gave some oil contract to Russian oil company over US oil companies. So a new cold war has began between the Romans and the Turks(Russian). Al-Qaeda is covertly controlled by Iran and the Qaeda Leaders are very much pro Iranian and Pro Russian too. Now Russia need a pre-text to invade Iraq and Al-Qaeda is working on it. The American Neo cons who in fact are of Russian origin with Dual Israeli citizenship will discourage America to intervene in Iraq again.America itself have lost too much money and man power in Iraq and Afghanistan but they still have interest in that region. Because the ultimate goal of the Neocons was to use american military as cannon fodder to hand over Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran and they successfully did it in Iraq but failed in Afghanistan. Now they are going to bring their real partner Russia. If Al-Qaeda keep the momentum of car bombing in Iraq then Russia will finally have the excuse to intervene. So in the near future Russia may invade Iraq in favor of Nuri Maliki. Once this happen the Romans will then have no choice but to make a truce with the sunnis to punish their Biatch Nuri Al Maliki for committing adultery with Russia.

  4. johngilbert Avatar
    johngilbert

    Since Iraq is allied with Iran, it should call on Iran to help it since Iran has benefited the most from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Malaki government in Iraq.

    1. wargame1 Avatar

      Good point. Iraqi Shia regime is secretly allied with Russia and its not that secret any more when it gave some oil contract to Russian oil company over US oil companies. So a new cold war has began between the Romans and the Turks(Russian). Al-Qaeda is covertly controlled by Iran and the Qaeda Leaders are very much pro Iranian and Pro Russian too. Now Russia need a pre-text to invade Iraq and Al-Qaeda is working on it. The American Neo cons who in fact are of Russian origin with Dual Israeli citizenship will dis courage America to intervene in Iraq again. Because the ultimate goal of the Neocons was to use american military as cannon fodder and they successfully did it. Now they are going to bring their real partner Russia. If Al-Qaeda keep the momentum of car bombing in Iraq then Russia will finally have the excuse to intervene. So in the near future Russia may invade Iraq in favor of Nuri Maliki.

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