With United States warplanes bombing Islamic State sites in Iraq, the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki will be heaving a sigh of relief. What was being seen as a clean sweep by the Al Qaeda-inspired extremists of many Iraqi cities and facilities has now turned into a war with the US military, which is sure to gain strategic advantage.
The IS, earlier called the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, has changed the geostrategic situation of the Middle East by making deep inroads into Iraqi territory, entering Syria and fighting Lebanese troops inside the border.
Washington’s intervention in Iraq has been a fraught one from the time American troops invaded the country and toppled Saddam Hussein, who was later found hiding and was hanged after a controversial trial.
Iraq became a sectarian tinderbox after the invasion with US troops losing their men in fierce fighting and bomb attacks by militants from different factions.
This time it’s different. The United States military will be seen as a saviour of Iraqis who nervously watched their government gradually yield to the Islamic State’s devious and violent ways. US President Barack Obama yesterday said that Iraq is going to be a long-term project. The astute politician that Obama is, he is probably taking the pressure off himself and his administration to produce quick results.
Obama has been under pressure to intervene militarily in Syria. Even though Syria burned under the brutality of Bashar Al Assad’s regime, Obama deflected pressure to send warplanes or troops. The chemical attack near Damascus, purportedly by regime forces, was seen to cross the ‘red line’ for military intervention which Obama had drawn. Even this failed to push the US leader into action.
Now that Iraq is burning and minorities in the nation, which has been lashed by sectarian strife for years are suffering, Washington has decided to act. The resolute step will go a long way in easing strains on Christians, Kurds and Yazidis, who have been targeted by the extremists.
Though there is no love lost between the Kurds and Maliki, the IS onslaught had forced the Shia leader to ask his military to help Kurds fight the IS. The Yazidis, considered non-Muslims by the extremists, have been the IS militants’ biggest target. As hundreds of Yazidi families fled to the mountains to escape the militants, the extremists laid siege below. Thirst and hunger had started getting the better of Yazidis’ resolve to survive.
US war planes have helped the minority community by dropping food and water over the mountains. Moreover, the air attacks on IS artillery positions would certainly weaken the militants’ resolve and make them lose weapons and men.
Obama’s decision to come to Iraq’s help for a humanitarian cause is laudable and would go a long way in helping Washington repair its image among Iraqis•