President Obama authorized the use of limited air strikes on Thursday in Iraq to protect American personnel and to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death after Islamic State fighters have unleashed terror and seized control over areas of northern Iraq that were once considered safe from religious extremism.
The Islamic State (IS) is an unrecognized state and jihadist group known for its harsh interpretation of Wahabbi Islam numbering over 4,000 fighters in Iraq that seek to bring Muslim areas of the world under its direct political control by establishing a caliphate that stretches from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
The group has directed brutal violence against Shia Muslims and Christians across the region and is officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council along with a host of other countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.
In recent days, Islamic State forces have seized control over more territory in northern Iraq, including Iraq’s largest damn, the Mosul Damn.
Iraqi PM Nouri al-
After thousands of Iraq’s minority group, Yezidis, with ancient Christian roots, were driven away from their homes and stranded on Sinjar Mountain, facing the prospect of imminent death, President Obama decided to authorize the use of airstrikes on Islamic State.
“In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives. And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs” Obama said from the State Dining Room.
“We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain” Obama added later in his address.
Obama said that he is authorizing the use of limited airstrikes, if necessary, “to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there.”
American aircraft have already begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to stranded Yezidis on the mountainside.
Obama also said he was also concerned about protecting American personnel at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, a large city in northern Iraq that Islamic forces are preparing to seize and overrun.
“To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad” Obama explained.
The United States fought an eight year war in Iraq from 2003-2011 which was unpopular with the majority of Americans and did little to establish a Jeffersonian style of democracy in the region.
During Obama’s presidency, American troops were pulled from Iraq.
Obama emphasized that American combat troops won’t be redeployed to Iraq to help stabilize the country.
“American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq because there is no American military solution to the crisis in Iraq,” Obama said.
Obama made it clear that “the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world” but later admitted that “our leadership is necessary to underwrite the global security and prosperity that our children and our grandchildren will depend upon.”