News / USA

Obama Faces Limited Options in Iraq

Obama Faces Limited Options in Iraqi
X
Meredith Buel
June 19, 2014 1:20 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a range of military options to help the Iraqi government break the momentum of Islamic militants determined to crush the government in Baghdad. The Iraqi army has partially disintegrated in the face of these attacks, despite years of training and funding by the United States. VOA’s Meredith Buel reports.
Meredith Buel
U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a range of military options to help the Iraqi government break the momentum of Islamic militants determined to crush the government in Baghdad.  The Iraqi army has partially disintegrated in the face of these attacks, despite years of training and funding by the United States.
 
Iraqi security forces are trying to retake ground lost to militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and prevent them from getting closer to Baghdad.
 
The radical group, inspired by al-Qaida, overran Mosul and then stormed toward Baghdad as Iraqi security forces collapsed.
 
President Obama says the fact the Iraqi military will not stand and fight reflects the fractured politics of the country.
 
“There’s a problem with morale, there’s a problem in terms of commitment.  And ultimately, that’s rooted in the political problems that have plagued the country for a very long time,” says Obama.
 
After invading in 2003, the U.S. spent billions training Iraqi security forces.
 
Pentagon Spokesman Admiral John Kirby says the U.S. thought Iraqi forces had reached an adequate degree of preparedness.
 
“When we left Iraq in 2011, we left Iraqi security forces at a level of competency, particularly on counterterrorism that we believed was appropriate to the threats that they faced,” says Kirby.
 
But Sunni Muslims began protesting what they felt was unfair treatment by the predominantly Shi’ite government in Baghdad.
 
Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, says problems have been slowly fomenting.
 
“And in recent times, especially in the aftermath in the U.S. withdrawal, there has been increased ethnic and sectarian polarization,” says Khalilzad.
 
And those sectarian divisions, analysts say, prompted Iraqi security forces to flee rather than fight since few felt any loyalty to the government in Baghdad.
 
Rampant corruption, poor leadership and demoralized troops, experts say, led soldiers to shed their uniforms and retreat when threatened by the insurgents.
 
Now Obama administration officials are debating how to bolster the Iraqi army.
 
Senior analyst Michael Rubin with the American Enterprise Institute says it might require a substantial effort.
 
"We've got to support the Iraqis as they defeat al-Qaida whatever it takes.  That's probably going to mean some sort of air support,” says Rubin.
 
But other experts say drones or manned aircraft will only have a limited impact.
 
Military strategist and retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner says “it is enough to stop them, but not enough to reverse the gains.”
 
Another complication, say analysts, is that donors from wealthy Arab countries are funding the flow of arms into Syria’s civil war.
 
Now Islamic extremists from that conflict are threatening the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
 
Middle East expert Michael O’Hanlon from the Brookings Institution says the onus is on Maliki.
 
“Maliki is going to have to do these things, he is going to have to be more inclusive or the Gulf states will not stop their support for hardline Sunni groups,” says O’Hanlon.
 
 
U.S. officials say the jihadis must be stopped before they can establish a safe haven in the region.
 
The militants want to carve out an Islamic emirate stretching from Syria through Iraq.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark from: Virginia
June 20, 2014 7:48 PM
I only see one option, but one we doubtfully will take; get out of Iraq for good and stay out. No more American involvement in that graveyard of a country.
Period.


by: meanbill from: USA
June 19, 2014 11:54 AM
TRUTH BE TOLD -- Maliki has a military that is divided between (Sunni and Shia), and the Sunni troops won't fight against the Sunni (ISIL) or other Sunni terrorists, and may even shoot the Iraq Shia troops in the back? -- (Picture it?)

NOW PICTURE THIS -- Sunni troops obeying Sunni officers, but not obeying Shia officers, and Sunni troops refusing to attack Sunni terrorists, and taking their uniforms off and joining them, or even some of the Sunni troops shooting the Shia troops in the back? --- (Not a pretty picture, is it?) --- and some people who don't know anything, now blaming Maliki for the religious divisions in the Iraq military.....

MY OPINION? -- The only way to solve this problem, is to disarm the Sunni military, (and if that's not possible), segregate them from the Shia troops, (like the British did, in the Sepoy mutiny). -- Hundreds of years of Religious Sunni and Shia divisions and wars, can't be forgotten by many, can they? --- IF ONLY the US, EU, and NATO countries hadn't interfered in the Islamic countries politics, none of this Islamic violence, killings, destruction and war happening now, wouldn't be?

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 20, 2014 11:54 PM
A message to the non-believer Mark from Virginia?

IF ONLY? -- If only the US, EU, and NATO countries hadn't interfered in the politics of the Islamic countries, (deliberately stirring up the religious differences and hatreds), and bringing nothing but violence, killings, destruction and wars to all these Islamic countries, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, none of this would be happening now, would it? ---- The US, EU, and NATO countries deliberately stirred-up the Sunni hatred, against the Shia and all the other religions, and only "God" knows why they did it... or the Devil?

In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 20, 2014 8:14 PM
You cannot fully blame Bush, the EU or NATO for this.... you said it yourself, "Hundreds of years of Religious Sunni and Shia divisions and wars, can't be forgotten by many, can they?"
They have been slaughtering each other for all those hundreds of years and without any interference by America or Europe. Even segregated for over 200 years and they still fought each other and killed each other.


by: Not Again from: Canada
June 19, 2014 7:59 AM
It is a very difficult situation for the Obama administration, because there are very few options if the Iraqi gvmt does not wish to create a gvmt of national unity, and Maliki does not resign, or as a minimum the powers of Maliki must be significantly decentralized. With the passage of time, in this crisis, it will be more and more difficult to find persons of stature and with commanding leadership attributes to join a rapidly failing gvmt. The situation is going to end up just like in Syria, if a national unity gvmt is not formed, = a gvmt which does not have the support of the majority, propped up by the Iranian theocratic dictatorship; under such a situation, Iraq will completely fall appart, as Syria did. In addition, the war is likely to spread throughout the neighbouring countries, as they too take sides, not by choice, and ISIL will be strenghtened rather than weakened.

All this is the result of grave mistakes by the Bush administration they very much pushed, were enamoured/supported, Maliki to the top; notwithstanding that it was very evident, from the beginning, that Maliki was reluctant to share power equitably and did not have broad support. Unfortunately for all, Maliki can break Iraq further, but he can't fixit.


by: meanbill from: USA
June 19, 2014 12:54 AM
CRAZY isn't it? -- The US trained South Vietnam army ran in the Vietnam war -- (AND NOW?) -- the US trained Iraq Security Forces ran and hid -- (AND?) -- will the US trained Afghanistan army also run and hide, instead of fighting?

COULD IT BE? -- that the US always trains the others army, to be cowards, or does the US deliberately train the others army to take off their uniforms in the streets, and run away without firing a shot, and save their butts? -- (US trained?)

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 21, 2014 12:10 AM
To Mark from Virginia, the non-believer?
HOW can the US, and NATO military, (that couldn't defeat any army in any conflict or war) -- train another army, to defeat the enemy army, they could never defeat? --- Sounds crazy, doesn't it? --- (The losers training somebody else, to win a fight they couldn't win?)

In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 20, 2014 8:09 PM
It was because of the massive American involvement and the brunt of the Americans fighting in South Vietnam, and the lack of understanding between American and South Vietnamese strategies that the ARVN forces were, shall we say, less effective. It certainly was not because of the training they received.
It was because of the involvement of US forces compared to the lesser involvement of the Iraqi Security Forces that the latter did not step up as boldly. Give them all the training you can, but if you do not give them a better reason to fight, they won't fight.


by: Earl from: Folsom, CA
June 18, 2014 11:07 PM
imho,
Step 1) Please get educated on the history of the 3 separate areas of Iraq as it existed during the Ottoman Empire.
Step 2) Remove Prime Minister Maliki from his position.
Step 3) Work toward establishing three separate countries to replace Iraq, one for the Shi'ites, the Kurds, and the Sunni's.
Step 4) Read step one if this does not make sense.

In Response

by: Earl from: Folsom, CA
June 23, 2014 4:30 PM
imho
1) ISIL has already irreversibly established a new state within what was formerly Iraq. Its going to take a while for the world governments and the media to recognize and acknowledge this.
2) Iraq Kurds are concentrated in the north, Sunnis in the middle, and Shi-ites in the south. This is roughly how the three countries existed before the Iraq border was drawn.
3) I would think it would be easier to deal with three countries than to try and have the three warring tribes as one country.
4) I am not the type to hurt anyone, its not in me. However, war is messy so I hear. Instead of our government trying to get Maliki to change, why not work with the UN to vastly increase huge refugee programs to allow as many innocent civilians to move out of the region as possible. Give everyone a date to be out. Then have a military force go in and kill off ISIL and kill anyone they are using as a shield. Its the only way to beat them and stop them from continuing the extremist horrific rampage. It would be easier to accomplish this if there were three smaller countries for the Kurds, Sunnies, and Shi'ite. To heck with the oil distribution i Iraq.
5) As an American, I will gladly pay $7+ per gallon of gas to do my measly part in preventing further expansioin of this ISIL barbaric movement.

In Response

by: Earl from: Folsom, CA
June 23, 2014 3:15 PM
Yes, they killed each other when they were three separate countries for hundreds of years.
1st opinion) The only advantage I see to creating three separate countries again is to be able to deal with the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites separately with their own governments. Break the problem into pieces. If the never got along as three separate countries, how on earth can anyone expect them to ever get along as one?
2nd opinion) The British/French made the first huge mistake when they drew a border around these three warring tribes and called it Iraq.
3rd opinion) My tax dollars to try and propagate this huge mistake have been totally wasted. How can a few US Presidents think they could have fixed this in a few Presidential terms?
4th opinion) The only way to beat the ISIL is to change war tactics, go in and kill innocent civilians in order to kill ISIL, otherwise, they will only continue to conquer. Otherwise, accept them as an independent country and a new boundary we can then confine them to through the UN and an alliance of countries.

In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 20, 2014 8:01 PM
your "Step 1" intrigued me, so I did a little research into that period of Iraqi history. It was broken up into three Provinces; Mosul Vilayet, Baghdad Vilayet and Basra Vilayet. For most of the time during the control of the Ottoman Empire in that region (1534 - 1704 and again 1831 - 1920) it was considered a battleground between rival factions.
Even kept separated, the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds still fought with each other and killed each other. I wonder if your idea of Step 3 would ever work... It certainly did not for the 259 years of that arrangement in the past.

In Response

by: Peter from: Australia
June 19, 2014 7:44 AM
Let those innocients kill each other then the world will be better.
If God exists Why He Won't Heal those mental Amputees?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid