Last Minute: Obama Mulls Weapons for Al-Maliki. Soleimani in Baghdad
President Barack Obama is close to a decision on a number of US military steps for thwarting the march of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is now halted at Samarra, 70 km short of Baghdad. In a comment Thursday night, June 12, he said: “We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.” He added that he was thinking of “short-term military things.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been appealing to the White House for months for Apache helicopters and Hellfire air-ground rockets to fight terrorists. These Obama may now release, as well as considering token US drone attacks on ISIS targets in Iraq, for which he is most reluctant.
Thursday afternoon, Iran’s most powerful gun, the Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, arrived in Baghdad to take over the push against ISIS, in the same way as he has managed Bashar Assad’s war in Syria, and pull together the demoralized and scattered Iraqi army.
Those steps by Washington and Tehran pave the way for the US and Iran to cooperate for the first time in a join military endeavor.
Since the ISIS forces, albeit boosted by tens of thousands of armed Sunnis flocking to the black flag, are not capable of capturing Baghdad and have halted outside the city, President Obama and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have won a small space for deciding how to proceed.
Khamenei must determine whether Gen. Soleimani with the help of American weaponry can stop al Qaeda, save Maliki from collapse and prevent the fall of Baghdad and whether it is worth sending an Iranian army division over to Iraq. Our intelligence sources have sighted what looked like preparations for this deployment.
What is decided in the coming hours in Washington will depend very much on the moves made by Tehran.
The big winner of the ISIS onslaught on Iraq, apart from Al Qaeda is the semiautonomous Kurdish republic in the north. When the Iraqi army 12th division assigned with defending Kirkuk and its oil fields scattered to the four winds Thursday, the Kurds Peshmerga army rolled right in and snatched the city and the oil fields from the control of the Baghdad government, fulfilling an old Kurdish dream.