With the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) taking over Iraq cities in Mosul and Tikrit Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has reportedly been asking for US assistance. ISIS has taken over more and more of Iraq as US trained Iraqi security forces fold before them despite outnumbering them.
According to a report in the New York Times Prime Minster Maliki requested the US carry out air strikes in staging areas for the militants. President Barack Obama is said to have denied the request. The US currently has no status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government which Maliki led at the time of the negotiations over the agreement. The Iraqis decided they did not want a US presence in country.
As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.
But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.
While there may be many issues Americans disagree on, it would be hard to find strong support for re-entering Iraq or even just carrying out air strikes. The American people want nothing to do with it.
Though the US is continuing its drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan it has so far refused to carry the practice into Iraq – first saying Maliki never made the request himself and now claiming not to want to be involved. There seems to be some symbolic resistance to reentering Iraq.
With the US initiated fall of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein came a power vacuum that has now been filled by the precise people the Bush Administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq in the first place. Bitter irony does not even begin to describe this.