Washington ignored red flags in Iraq

Washington ignored red flags in Iraq

By Claude Salhani - Trend:
Members of the Obama Administration were warned - repeatedly - that ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - posed a real threat to the security of Iraq, and ultimately to the region but did nothing to preempt the very foreseeable outcome.

"On November 1, 2013, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the White House, and made a rather stunning request," states a report from The Daily Beast.

Maliki, who apparently celebrated when the last of the U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011, made a very discreet request to the White House for a return of some U.S. military units to assist the Iraqi Air Force in planning target acquisition of ISIS positions.

Senior Obama Administration officials reported to the president that ISIS was launching upwards of 40 suicide bombers a month.

"ISIS was encouraged in part by the weakness of Maliki's military and the aggressively anti-Sunni policies of the Shi'ite prime minister," goes on to say The Daily Beast.

The mainstream media has been saying since the emergence of ISIS as a major force to be reckoned with that their recent successes and sudden meteoric rise to power was unforeseeable, yet all the intelligence services were telling anyone who was willing to listen that the news from Iraq was worrisome. Perhaps the alarm bells and red flags should have attracted some attention at this point.

The problem is that no one at the White House was listening.
How did the meteoric rise of ISIS fall between the gaps?

Despite being restructured by the U.S. military, Iraq's military suffered from poor operational tactics while legitimate and popular grievances were unheeded.
'The problem for Obama was that he had no good policy option in Iraq," wrote Eli Lake in the Daily Beast.

Having promised Iraq to sell it advanced weapon systems for nearly $11 billion, the Obama administration should have used the sale to place some leverage on the Maliki government forcing it to ease up on the Sunni populations of Iraq, except it did not.

Fallujah - a town made infamous during the U.S. occupation of Iraq when Sunni gunmen killed American contract workers, and where resistance to the U.S. presence became notorious, was the first major and strategically important city to fall to the Islamists. When Fallujah fell red flags should have gone up. They did not.

And just five month after that, Iraq's second-largest city -Mosul, fell like ripe fruit to the fighters of ISIS.

In his expose in The Daily Beast, Eli Lake states: "At the time, senior Obama administration officials went out of their way to proclaim just how impossible-to-predict the collapse of Mosul was."

But Mr. Lake adds, interviews with a dozen U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials, diplomats, and policy makers reveal a very different story. A catastrophe like the fall of Mosul wasn't just predictable. They repeatedly warned the Obama administration that something like this was going to happen.

The White House decided not do anything with the information they were given.
Now, perhaps with a bit of reality finally starting to sink in, the Obama Administration is starting to realize that it must do something. As a first step Obama has dispatched some 300 military advisors to Iraq. The unmanned drone flights - crucial for intelligence gathering have been increased from one flight per month to 50 flights.

Despite its ongoing problems, high unemployment, sporadic clashes and occasional car bombs, Iraq, until recently was on the road to recovery. Many however, disagreed. Their cries that should have been headed and action taken to avoid reaching the point were we are today.

Perhaps now the Obama administration will wake up to the fact that some inaction is a dangerous game to play.

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor at Trend Agency in Baku, Azerbaijan. You can follow him on [email protected]

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