News / Middle East

US Orders Aircraft Carrier into Gulf Amid Iraq Crisis

Call to Arms Raises Fears of Iraqi Sunni-Shia Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
June 14, 2014 1:43 AM
Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric has issued a call to arms to worshippers, to defend the country against an advance by the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, or ISIL. ISIL forces have captured large swaths of Iraq’s north and are just tens of kilometers from the capital. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, fears are growing of a Sunni-Shia sectarian war.
VIDEO: Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric issues call to arms to defend country against advance by Sunni militants, sparking fears of a Sunni-Shia sectarian war. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
VOA News
The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf in response to the crisis in Iraq.

The Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave the order that the USS George H.W. Bush move from the North Arabian Sea to the Gulf Saturday.

 
An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS drone) demonstrates touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean, May 17, 2013.An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS drone) demonstrates touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean, May 17, 2013.
x
An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS drone) demonstrates touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean, May 17, 2013.
An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS drone) demonstrates touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean, May 17, 2013.
Kirby says the order provides President Barack Obama "additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq."

A guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer will accompany the aircraft carrier.

Meanwhile, the French news agency (AFP) reports an Iraqi air strike hit a convoy of Kurdish forces in eastern Iraq, possibly by mistake, killing six fighters.  And mortar fire in central Iraq hit a recruitment center for civilians volunteering to fight the Islamist militants, killing six people.  Neither report has been confirmed.

Hundreds of Iraqi young men flocked to volunteer centers across Baghdad and elsewhere starting Saturday to join the fight against Islamist militants who have advanced across the north this week.

The volunteers are responding to a call to arms from Iraq's most revered Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

A spokesman for the ayatollah Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaie urged Iraqis to "fight the terrorists in defense of their country, its people and its holy sites." He said fighting the militants is "everyone's responsibility."

Iraqi officials say government forces have regained some territory with the help of volunteers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told army officers in Samarra that volunteers are arriving there to help soldiers defeat the militants.

Maliki vowed again Saturday to defeat Sunni militants who have captured large chunks of territory north and west of the capital, Baghdad.

The prime minister also said troops who abandoned their positions and left their uniforms in the streets in the northern city of Mosul earlier this week must return to their units or face possible severe punishment, including the death penalty.

The Iraqi Army, meanwhile, claimed that government forces have regained their momentum, after a string of recent defeats. 

Fighting continued Saturday in scattered regions north of Baghdad, with conflicting reports over which side — forces loyal to Maliki's government, or a mix of Sunni Islamist militant groups — had the upper hand.

Iran offers help

In another development Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is ready to help Iraq if asked, and would consider working with Tehran's longtime foe, the United States, in fighting Sunni extremists if Washington decides to take strong action against the fighters. Iran has developed close ties in recent years with the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday his national security advisers are preparing "a range of options" for U.S. assistance to Iraq's government as it faces an assault by al-Qaida inspired Islamist militants.

The president said the militants who have overrun parts of Iraq are a threat to the Baghdad government and people throughout the country, and pose an active threat to American interests as well. He said division among Iraq's leadership has led to the current crisis.

According to news reports by Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Washington's assistance would only work if Iraqi leaders "overcame deep divisions." The top U.S. diplomat communicated the information in a Saturday phone call with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

In quick strikes this week, militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, took control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and advanced within 90 kilometers of Baghdad.

Late Thursday, ISIL fighters seized the towns of Jalawla and Saadiyah in the ethnically divided eastern province of Diyala.

A spokesman for the Sunni militants vowed they would push into Baghdad and on to Karbala, a city southwest of Baghdad that is one of the holiest sites for Shi'ite Muslims.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 15, 2014 2:10 AM
MY OPINION? -- The Sunnis in the (US Trained) Iraq Security Forces, took off their military uniforms and joined the (ISIL) in a bold attempt to overthrow the Maliki Shia dominated Iraq government -- (and Maliki was right about the planed conspiracy) -- (BUT?) -- Maliki will lead his country to victory -- (PLUS?) -- he knows now who the traitors in the (US trained) Iraq Security Forces were, doesn't he?

MY OPINION? -- It was a pre-planned operation, with outside help, (and if some country interferes "for humanitarian reasons" in this Iraq conflict, the whole world will know who it was?), won't we? --- A Maliki victory in Iraq is guaranteed, unless some country interferes on the Sunni (ISIL) side, to delay it? ---- REALLY

by: hcc from: Hamburg
June 15, 2014 1:05 AM
We must help Ukrainians!
In Response

by: James Platter from: Australia
June 19, 2014 9:08 AM
Doing what?

by: Hunter from: Mexico presently
June 15, 2014 12:20 AM
One wonders what the Iraqis will think of being protected by the U.S. George H.W. Bush?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs