Iraqi AMB: Iraq needs help, wants US

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Iraq is erupting.

"The threat now is immediate to the region and it's immediate to the globe and it's certainly immediate to U.S. interests," said Lukman Faily, Iraqi Ambassador to the United States.

Speaking from the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C., Faily said Iraq is being terrorized by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an offspring of Al Qaeda.

The jihadist group has violently seized cities and provinces and are now said to be aiming for heavily guarded Baghdad.

The situation in Iraq has been deteriorating since the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal, a measure that was pushed by Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki and welcomed by the White House.

That "premature" withdrawal has been offered up as one reason for the chaos currently unfolding throughout much of the country.

Some national security experts argue, in the rush to get out, the U.S. failed to leave the sort of presence in the country that would continue to build on progress made in the years leading up to the 2011 withdrawal. That progress involved an inclusive Iraqi government that saw Shiites and Sunnis holding posts of authority.

But since 2011, the Iraqi government has become Shiite dominated. Nouri al-Maliki's handling of the divide between Shiites and Sunnis is cited as another reason for the ISIS, a Sunni group, uprising.

Experts also point to the U.S.'s handling of the post-invasion government in 2003, dismantling existing civil and social institutions and turning away anyone with ties to former dictator Saddam Hussein, and, subsequently anyone with knowledge of how Iraqi government functioned.

A similar situation unfolded in Libya, also currently overrun by Islamist insurgents. After former strongman Moammar Gaddhafi was killed during the 2011 Libyan revolution, the north African nation's parliament passed a law banning officials from the Gaddafi-era from holding political office, subsequently banning many who possessed insight into establishing a functioning government. However, Libya did differ from Iraq in that the latter actually had institutions to build upon after its dictator was deposed.

Of course, all the factors in Iraq, whether they have played small or great roles in the current crises, have only been compounded by instability throughout the region.

"The situation in Syria has been deteriorating for about three years and since there hasn't been a clear focus by the international community to get a closure to that, it has become a focal point for international jihadists," said Ambassador Faily.

Those jihadists, continued Faily, fight in Syria, gain access to weapons there, then cross the border to Iraq. Iraq needs help, the Ambassador insisted, preferably America's.

"We appreciate the United States contribution. We ourselves have suffered from terrorism for some time now. We have some way to go together," said Faily. "We have other countries in the region and elsewhere offering us help, on conditions, but this may not be to the benefit of the United States. We're saying, 'we're choosing the United States as our partner,'" explained Faily, who stressed that the sort of U.S. assistance Iraq is requesting does not include U.S. troops.

"We don't want U.S. boys there. We don't want the young ones. We will have that fight but we want the support," said Faily. "We need beefing up of our capabilities: counter-terrorism, intelligence, military hardware, training, air support."

These could be a difficult sell to an already war-weary U.S. with the wounds of the war in Iraq still fresh for many.

"Since the troop withdrawal, Iraq no longer became the core issue for the public and we want that issue to be the core issue for the [Obama] administration and for the Americans because of the threat. The threat is international," warned Faily.

He illustrates the impact of oil rich Iraq falling to into the hands of terrorists. That, along with insurgents overrunning Syria and oil rich Libya, could turn a regional mess into an international one.

"If Al Qaeda has access to billions - or any of their offspring such as ISIS - has access to billions of dollars, then that will certainly create havoc throughout the world. That's the seriousness of the situation," stressed the Ambassador.


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