Defence & Security News - Iraq
|Thursday, October 31, 2013 06:35 AM|
Iraq asks more weapons and manpower to United States to fight al-Qaida rebels.
Nearly two years after pushing out the U.S. military, Iraq is asking for more American weapons, training and manpower to help fight a bloody resurgence of al-Qaida that has unleashed a level of violence comparable to the darkest days of the nation's civil war.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, walks with the House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., right, and the committee's chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., October 30, 2013.
The request will be discussed during a White House meeting Friday between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Barack Obama in what Baghdad hopes will be a fresh start in a complicated relationship that has been marked by victories and frustrations for each side.
"We know we have major challenges of our own capabilities being up to the standard. They currently are not," Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We need to gear up, to deal with that threat more seriously. We need support and we need help."
He added: "We have said to the Americans we'd be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground."
Al-Maliki is expected to ask Obama for new assistance to bolster its military and fight al-Qaida. Faily said that could include everything from speeding up the delivery of U.S. aircraft, missiles, interceptors and other weapons, to improving national intelligence systems. And when asked, he did not rule out the possibility of asking the U.S. to send military special forces or additional CIA advisers to Iraq to help train and assist counterterror troops.
U.S. officials were prepared to help Iraq with an across-the-board approach that did not focus just on military or security gaps, the administration official said. The aid under consideration might include more weapons for Iraqi troops who do not have necessary equipment to battle al-Qaida insurgents, he said.
U.S. and Iraqi officials see a possible solution in trying to persuade insurgents to join forces with Iraqi troops and move away from al-Qaida, following a pattern set by so-called Awakening Councils in western Iraq that marked a turning point in the war. Faily said much of the additional aid — including weapons and training — would go toward this effort.