The Obama administration has launched an aerial bombing of Iraq’s Islamic extremist group, the “Islamic State.” However, the United States has also acknowledged that it would be unable to flush out the extremist group with these air strikes. In order for the United States to support the new national unity government and cooperate with the United Nations on returning stability to Iraq, it must work strongly with both militaries.
President Obama, who is reluctant regarding military intervention, went ahead with this aerial bombing firstly because there is a need to ensure the safety of American citizens, and secondly because religious minorities are facing genocide.
President Obama was elected by criticizing the United States’ invasion of Iraq; he is averse to invading Iraq a second time and has rejected calls for intervention from at home and abroad. However, the Islamic State intensified its offensive against the Kurdish northern region from the beginning of this month, and towns in the periphery of the central city of Erbil fell under Islamic State control, which lead to the decision to launch air strikes.
The U.S. consulate and Military Assistance Advisory Group are posted in Erbil; if left to chance, there is fear of another incident like the attack against the consulate in Libya, in which American diplomats were murdered.
The Obama administration was also spurred to action by the Islamic State’s mass killings of several hundred Yazidi religious minority group members, as well as approximately 40,000 refugees in the mountain region who are on the brink of starvation and water shortage.
The air strikes slammed the brakes on the Islamic State’s advance, and Kurdish forces have regained control of Erbil’s surrounding towns. However, the Islamic State cannot be wiped out by a limited air strike. Rather, it is becoming more likely that by containing its influence, the occupied territories would become a sanctuary for extremists and a base for attacks against the West.
In order to weaken the Islamic State, an integrated military and political policy is essential. The fact that it is not possible to achieve long-term stability through the use of military force clearly demonstrates the failure of the United States’ invasion of Iraq.
It is obvious that the Maliki government’s bias toward Shiite relatives led to the rise of the Islamic State. Because of this, the United States has continued to demand the establishment of a national unity government to replace the Maliki administration and recently nominated the Iraq parliament deputy speaker Abadi as a candidate for the new prime minister. However, concerns that Prime Minister Maliki will retaliate with a coup are cause for alarm.
The United States must not allow this kind of infighting in Iraq. The Obama administration tends to shy away from difficult diplomatic issues, but it should hammer out a proactive, comprehensive Iraq strategy at once.