From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Breaking News: Obama orders 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq
Date: Thu Jun 19 18:40:59 MDT 2014
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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Obama orders 300 U.S. “advisers” to Iraq

President Barack Obama a few minutes ago announced he authorized sending up to 300 U.S. troops to Iraq to help Iraqi military forces cope with a rapidly advancing attack by Islamist fighters from the fundamentalist group ISIS. It is in our national security interest not to see an all-out civil war in Iraq,” Obama said. While reiterating that he would not send combat troops to Iraq, the president said the United States would help the Iraqis “take the fight” to the militants, who he said pose a threat to Iraq’s stability and to American interests.

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Maliki says he will not step down to facilitate U.S. air strikes against ISIS

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said Maliki will not stand down in order to make it politically easier for the United States to launch air strikes against ISIS Sunni militants who have made rapid advances across Iraq, culminating yesterday (Wednesday) with taking control over Iraq’s largest oil refinery, located in Baiji, 130 miles north of Baghdad. The Islamists now control a third of Iraq’s territory. Many U.S. lawmakers, and many analysts of Iraq, consider the failed leadership Maliki -- a Shi’a politician who, at Iran’s urging, has pursued a narrow sectarian policies which has alienated Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds -- as the reason for the willingness of the Sunni population in Iraq to welcome ISIS as a protector of Sunni interests, and the indifference shown so far by the Kurds in the face of ISIS gains.

ISIS insurgents take over Iraq’s largest refinery, continue advance toward Baghdad

Earlier this morning (Wednesday) ISIS Islamic militants took over Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, located near the town of Baiji, 130 miles north of Baghdad. The fall of the refinery is a major blow to the already-reeling government of Nouri al-Maliki. The refinery provides about 40 percent of Iraq’s refined oil needs, and if the supplies dry up, the Iraqi economy would be paralyzed within a few days, and Iraqi citizens would be without power or gas for their cars. As was the case since the ISIS campaign began late last week, the Iraqi military and security forces put up only a token resistance, with most of their units melting away and leaving their arms and equipment behind without even engaging the militants. Iraq is the second largest oil producer in OPEC.

If Nouri al-Maliki stays in office, Iraq faces destructive descent into a long civil war

Throughout his two previous terms, Nouri al-Maliki managed to create various problems but failed to solve any of them. Instead of winning over the population of the heavily Sunni provinces, and through them Iraq’s wider Sunni community, al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government persistently alienated and discriminated against them. Before long, Sunni areas started to see protests, sit-ins and demonstrations against the policies of al-Maliki and his government. The prime minister’s response was to increase the presence of security and military forces, which were mainly staffed and headed by Shiite personnel. Thanks to his unwillingness to concede to the demands of the Sunni-majority provinces, instead resorting to the use of force, his struggle against the leaders of these provinces (and indeed most opposition Sunni leaders) reached the point of no return. Al-Maliki’s departure, and the formation of a government of national unity of technocrats that could put an end to corruption and at least restore basic services, could perhaps offer a chance for some stability. It would also help end the many disputes and problems al-Maliki has created with the Kurdish regional government, the Sunni provinces, and especially with his own Shiite coalition partners. His insistence on remaining in office will only hasten the start of a destructive and prolonged civil conflict -- all too reminiscent of the catastrophe still unfolding across his country’s north-eastern border.

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