As Iraq struggles to stem the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism by a radical Sunni militant group infiltrating northern Iraq now calling itself Islamic State, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, is seeking a third term as prime minister amid growing mistrust and opposition to his leadership across Iraq.
On July 24th Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum was named the new president of Iraq after a parliamentary vote and widespread political backing among Iraq’s Sunni Muslims that feel excluded and marginalized by al-Maliki’s Shiite government in Baghdad.
On Sunday Prime Minister al-Maliki remained defiant, mobilized forces and tanks on the streets of Baghdad, and refused to resign as prime minister after Iraq’s parliament failed to reach a Sunday deadline and delayed a parliament meeting until August 19th that was scheduled for Monday to discuss naming a new candidate after elections in April failed to produce a conclusive result despite al-Maliki’s Shiite bloc receiving the largest number of seats.
Iraqi PM al-Maliki said he would file a complaint and accused President Massoum of violating Iraq’s constitution by missing the Sunday parliament deadline for him to request Iraq’s largest political bloc to nominate a prime minister and establish a functioning government.
On Friday U.S. President Barack began launching several American air attacks that extended over the week-end against selective Islamic State militant targets in northern Iraq intended to protect Americans in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, and ensure the safety of minority Yazidis who facing the threat of genocide by ruthless Islamic State forces that consider their ancient beliefs to be satanic with its syncretic blend of Persian Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
After spending over 2 trillion dollars toppling Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein and invading Iraq in 2003 with U.S. ground forces despite finding no weapons of mass destruction or direct links to 9/11, Americans are war-weary and mostly ambivalent about spending more American dollars to help stabilize volatile regions of the Middle East in a new era when the U.S. is producing more oil and natural gas and is less dependent on importing oil from the Middle East compared to only 10 years ago.
In a Quinnipiac poll taken June 24-30th Americans were asked if the U.S. going to war in Iraq in 2003 was the right thing to do.
The majority of Americans, 61 percent, said it was the wrong decision, up 6 percentage points compared to 55 percent of polled Americans who disagreed in 2007 during a poll taken from 4/25/07- 5/1/07.
When Americans were asked in the same Quinnipiac poll if it is in the national interest of the United States to be involved in the conflict in Iraq, the majority, 56 percent, said it was not in the United States’ national interest compared to 39 percent who said it was a national interest and 6 percent who were unsure.
Concerning the question about which president is to blame for the situation in Iraq, the majority of Americans believe that former President Bush is more to blame for the situation in Iraq compared to President Obama.
Quinnipiac poll results from June 24th-30th revealed that 51 percent of Americans blame Bush compared to 27 percent who blame Obama.
Pew Research Center conducted a recent poll from July 8-14 (before the recent near genocide of Yazidis in northern Iraq) that asked Americans if the U.S. has the responsibility to stop the violence in Iraq.
According to the poll results, only 39 percent of Americans said the U.S. has the responsibility with 48 percent of Republicans saying “yes” compared to only 35 percent of Democrats.
Foreign Policy Doubts
President Obama has lately been facing some criticism from inside and outside of his own political party for his handling of U.S. foreign policies across the Middle East.
During a recent interview with Atlantic, Senator Hillary Clinton voiced some criticism of Obama’s foreign policies and distanced herself from the administration’s handling of Syria as governments in Damascus and Baghdad struggle to contain the rising threat of Islamic militants loyal to Islamic State that want to remove the current borders and coalesce around a draconian Wahhabi worldview that seeks to establish a caliphate stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
When Senator Clinton was asked by Jeffrey Goldberg of Atlantic if she thought we’d be where we are with ISIS (AKA Islamic State) right now if the U.S. had done more three years ago to build up a moderate Syrian opposition, she explained that the failure from the U.S. to build up a force opposing Syrian President Assad has left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.
“Well, I don’t know the answer to that. I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Senator Clinton said.
Several other hawkish U.S. senators, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S. Carolina), believe that the U.S. homeland security faces a direct threat from the rising political unrest and violence fueled by Islamic State.
When asked on Fox News Sunday about what the U.S. is trying to accomplish with its air assault campaign against selective militant targets operating in northern Iraq, Senator Graham replied, “this is not a replacement for a strategy to deal with an existential threat to the homeland.”
Senator Graham believes that the presence of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria present a threat to America’s homeland and the U.S. needs to go on the offense to deal with the situation.
“To every member of Congress, you’ve been told by every major intelligence leader in our nation that we’re threatened. The homeland is threatened by the presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria” Graham said.
“To change that threat, we have to have a sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq. We need to go on offense. There is no force within the Mideast that can neutralize or contain or destroy ISIS without at least American air power” Graham added.
Not all U.S. senators agree with Senator Graham’s more hawkish outlook.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Fox News Sunday that there is not a U.S. military solution to the complex political issue in Iraq except for protecting Americans in northern Iraq and helping the humanitarian crisis.
“I agree with the president, there is not a U.S. military solution to this issue. We have a very limited mission that the president has authorized to deal with the humanitarian crisis to avoid a genocide and I support that mission,” Cardin said.
“We’re protecting U.S. interests as far as the safety of U.S. personnel in the northern part of Iraq. That’s our limited mission,” Cardin explained.
“But we’re not going to use our military to take care of what the Iraqis should be taking care of. And if you’re looking at what the real cause is here, the real cause is that the Iraqi government has not formed the way it should to protect the rights of all Iraqis,” Cardin added.
“We are not going to get in the middle of a civil war and use American military where it should be Iraqis taking care of their own needs,” he concluded.
* Note- In my last post, I mentioned that the Yazidis have ancient Christian roots. That statement is only partially true.
In fact, the Yazidis have adopted some forms of Christianity along with a syncretic blend of Persian Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam. Although they are considered monotheistic, they reject the idea of sin, the devil, and hell itself.
** Pinterest: I have an account there under schweitzfinance where I add some of my likes and favorites. Feel free to check it out.