Nancy A. Youssef writes: President Obama’s decision to send an additional 450 troops to Iraq is the latest example of a strategy mired in double paradox. The U.S. wants to save a unified Iraq—by strengthening the ethnic and religious militias that could tear the country apart. And to pull it off, Washington is counting on the cooperation of groups divided by a chasm of suspicion.
In its announcement Wednesday, the Obama administration said the additional American troops are supposed to help more Sunnis come forward and eventually receive U.S. military training. The goal is for those Sunnis to align with the largely Shiite government in Baghdad to drive out the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the Sunni-dominated terror army that controls the region where they live.
But there’s a major catch. Several, actually. For these Sunni fighters, fighting ISIS not only means going to war against their fellow Sunnis. It also means teaming up with the central government in Baghdad—a government dominated by their Shiite rivals with a long history of mistreating Sunnis. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: The United States is considering establishing additional military bases in Iraq to combat the Islamic State, the top American general said on Thursday, a move that would require at least hundreds more American military advisers to help Iraqi forces retake cities lost to the militant Sunni extremist group.
President Obama’s decision this week to send 450 trainers to establish a new military base to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, could signal the beginning of similar efforts in other parts of the country, said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Speaking to reporters aboard his plane to Naples, Italy, General Dempsey described a possible future campaign that entailed the establishment of what he called “lily pads” — American military bases around the country from which trainers would work with Iraqi security forces and local tribesmen in the fight against the Islamic State. [Continue reading…]