As Iraq Boils, Obama Orders Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf
(2:13 PM EST): US sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf as Obama considers air strikes in Iraq
The Guardian reports:
Civil war looms; Iraq Army, Shiite militias gaining recruits; President Hassan Rouhani of Iran says his troops will back Maliki government against ISIL forces alongside hints of cooperation with US
Shiite militias in Baghdad and across Iraq on Saturday are reportedly receiving throngs of new recruits who have answered calls to join the fight against the Sunni army known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which has taken large swaths of territory in recent weeks and is now threatening to bring the battle to the nation’s capital city.
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As the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seeks to counter the collapse and defeat of its army in the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit earlier in the week, both the Obama administration and Maliki’s allies in Iran are vowing to come to his aid.
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Reuters reports that a counter-offensive by the Iraqi Army was having success against ISIL in key areas on Saturday and staunching their promised efforts to reach Baghdad.
Citing a senior Iraqi official, the Guardian reports that “Iran has sent 2,000 advance troops to Iraq in the past 48 hours to help tackle a jihadist insurgency.” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has publicly vowed to support Iraq in its attempts to defeat the ISIL militants.
According to the Guardian:
Though the rigid lines of sectarian divisions are impossible to ignore, many are challenging the idea that what’s taking place in Iraq is a purely religious conflict with observers noting deeper political and historical origins of the current conflict, most of which flow directly out of the U.S. invasion of Iraq that destabilized that nation’s religious and political institutions in ways that have reverberated across the Middle East since 2003.
In Baghdad and the holy city of Samarra, however, it was mostly young Shiite men responding to the call by respected clerics who were seen preparing to defend their homes and communities from the ISIL threat.
The Associated Press reports:
According to the New York Times:
Writing on his Informed Comment blog on Saturday, Middle East historian Juan Cole notes the significance of how Sistani’s call to arms avoided strong use of religious language:
“There is nothing sectarian in this call except the need to protect the shrines sacred to the Shiites,” observes Cole. “Sistani has sometimes been forced to rely on Shiite militias for his own safety, but he does not approve of paramiitaries and wants to see the Iraqi state build responsible army and police.”
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