John Glaser / The Washington Times & The Lebanon Daily Star – 2014-01-07 01:00:28
Iraq Has Had Enough of US ‘Engagement’
John Glaser / The Washington Times
WASHINGTON, DC (January 6, 2014) — As al-Qaeda-linked groups gain control of Iraq’s western Anbar province, establishing strongholds in cities like Fallujah, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the GOP’s most hawkish interventionists, are blaming the 2011 US withdrawal and the lack of American intrusion into Iraq’s ongoing instability.
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame. When President Obama withdrew all US forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to US national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever,” McCain and Graham said in a statement.
“The Administration must recognize the failure of its policies in the Middle East and change course. America has lost time, options, influence, and credibility over the past five years, and we cannot afford to remain disengaged any longer,” they added.
One would think McCain and Graham might engage in some measure of self-reflection after being so wrong on absolutely everything about Iraq. These two men championed the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, a campaign that was soon revealed to have been based on lies.
Their indefatigable predictions of tranquility in post-Saddam, US occupied Iraq were soon invalidated by the utter chaos that was unleashed as a result of the war of choice they so fervently advocated for.
Iraqis waged a bloody insurgency against their occupiers and jihadists from throughout the Middle East flooded into the country to fight. Peer-reviewed scientific estimates put the total death toll at around 500,000, with countless more lives torn apart. The vaunted surge, which McCain and Graham heartily defended, quelled violence for a while, but proved to be a shaky, unsustainable amelioration to the chronic horror and instability caused by the US invasion.
Washington lobbied for a war against Iraq to undermine al-Qaeda terrorists, despite al-Qaeda not ever having a presence in Iraq prior to 2003. America brought al-Qaeda to Iraq. And now McCain and Graham have the audacity to blame this resurgence on a lack of US engagement.
Iraq was injected with a poison in 2003 that contaminated its circulatory system and infested its vital organs. It has been fighting off the resulting disease ever since. Now McCain and Graham are demanding Iraq ingest, as a cure, the same venom that got it so sick in the first place.
When Iraqis firmly rejected a continued US military presence beyond 2011, the Obama administration had no choice but to pull out, albeit reluctantly. But Washington has by no means been “disengaged.”
Billions of US dollars are sent to the government in Baghdad every year, even as the corrupt and authoritarian Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki imprisons and tortures his political opponents. Maliki has forcibly crowded out Sunni representation in the government, a systematic policy that has exacerbated sectarian tensions in the country and infuriated the Sunni population. Not only does Washington send enormous financial support to Iraq, but it continues to train and equip Iraqi security forces.
The Obama administration, for its part, has vowed to aid the Iraqi government in this fight, although boots on the ground have reportedly been ruled out. But America is essentially still fighting one side of the civil conflict in Iraq.
According to McCain and Graham, it just isn’t enough.
Never mind the much more obvious take, which is that US “engagement” has been destroying Iraq for more than two decades. After supporting the brutal Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War decimated much of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure.
The subsequent sanctions regime, described by United Nations envoy Denis Halliday as genocidal, was one of the stiffest in history, devastating Iraq’s economy and contributing to the death of up to half a million children under the age of five. The illegitimate, illegal invasion in 2003 was the nail in the coffin; a war of choice the country is still suffering from.
It seems to me Iraq has had enough of American “engagement.”
US Speeds Up Drone,
Missile Deliveries to Aid Iraq
The Daily Star
WASHINGTON (January 6, 2014) — The United States will speed up delivery of missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq as the Baghdad government battles a resurgence of Al-Qaeda linked militants, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
“We are … looking to accelerate the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) deliveries with an additional 100 Hellfire missiles ready for delivery this spring,” Colonel Steven Warren said. An additional 10 ScanEagle surveillance drones would also be delivered he said.
Hellfire missiles, originally designed as an anti-tank weapon, can be fired from helicopters or airplanes.
ScanEagle drones are a low-cost three-meter aircraft capable of flying 24 hours.
The deliveries correspond to contracts already signed with Iraq. Some 75 Hellfire missiles were delivered to Baghdad in mid-December, US officials said.
Since then Iraq has seen a resurgence of fighting in the province of Anbar, a key insurgent stronghold following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) reclaimed control of the city of Fallujah last week, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq war between US troops and insurgents.
Warren said Washington was working closely with Iraqi officials to develop a “holistic strategy to isolate Al Qaeda-affiliated groups so that the tribes working with the security forces can drive them out of the populated areas.”
However, he reiterated previous statements from US Secretary of State John Kerry that no US forces would return to Iraq to assist in military operations.
“We’ll not be sending forces to Iraq,” he said.
Instead the United States would continue to provide intelligence to assist and advise the Iraqis at a “ministerial level” through around 100 military personnel who continued to be based at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Warren said.
The assistance would not extend to operational advice. “We’re not doing tactical work with the Iraqis,” he said.
Despite the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, the United States remains a key partner for Iraq on security and defense, providing more than $14 billion worth of weapons to Baghdad since 2005.
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