Western engagement continues to intensify in Iraq, where the United States and Britain are delivering humanitarian supplies while U.S. air strikes target radical Sunni militants.
Airdrops of food and drinking water are providing desperately-needed relief to religious minorities who fled Islamic insurgents in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, a U.S. bombing campaign continues to target posts and equipment used by militants threatening the northern city of Irbil.
President Barack Obama has ruled out U.S. ground troops in Iraq, but summed up America’s goals this way:
“We have to make sure that ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is not engaging in the actions that could cripple a country permanently. I do not think we are going to solve this problem in weeks - it is going to take some time,” said Obama.
Ultimately, what Iraq needs is a political solution in Baghdad, according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
“At the moment, our focus is on supporting humanitarian efforts, trying to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq and waiting to see as the new government is formed whether it will be an inclusive government that we can get behind in its efforts,” said Hammond.
President Obama’s critics in Congress see the stepped up engagement in Iraq as too little too late. Republican Senator Ted Cruz sees no clear objective.
“What is happening in Iraq is the latest manifestation of the failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. I am glad the president is finally demonstrating some leadership, taking the threat from ISIS (aka ISIL) seriously. But unfortunately he is following the pattern that has characterized his foreign policy from the beginning of his tenure. He has laid out no clearly-defined objective that we are trying to accomplish,” said Cruz.
But Iraq is but one global hotspot demanding America’s attention, according to former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill.
“People are paying attention to Iraq, but there are a lot of other crises in the world that may have drowned it out or reduced the bandwidth for Iraq. ISIS, whatever its origins, it is pretty clear that it is part of a situation in Syria that has metastasized into Iraq,” said Hill, speaking in ABC’s This Week program.
Gripping images of Islamic State militants captured by Vice News and broadcast by ABC show militants parading captured military equipment, recruiting young followers, and making a bold claim - that their flag will one day be raised at the White House.