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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora