Seeking support from ally
Speaking to reporters prior to his trip to the US, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said that Al Qaeda is conducting a terrorist campaign against the Iraqi people and he doesn’t want Iraq to turn into a terrorist base. So, US military support including warplanes, weapons and other military equipment is needed to help Iraq fight the terrorists. Maliki said he would make a proposal during talks with President Obama.
However, Mr. Maliki’s plan was immediately opposed by a number of US Senators. Senators John McCain, Carl Levin, Robert Menedez and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concern about the worsening situation in Iraq. These Senators blamed Mr. Maliki’s government for splitting Iraq and increasing the violence there because the Prime Minister has pursued a dictatorship, ignored the interests of the Sunni people, looked down on the Kurds, and isolated Shiites, who want a democratic Iraq. They said military aid to Iraq is likely to fuel further violence.
Bloody violence is spreading out in Iraq. According to the UN mission there, 6,000 people have died and 14,000 have been injured since the beginning of this year in armed attacks and suicide bombings. These numbers are comparable to casualties in 2006 and 2007 when the Iraq civil war was at its climax. In the last five months, there were at least 2 attacks a day in Iraq. Bomb attacks have been reported everywhere, at markets, mosques, weddings, and funerals in Baghdad and elsewhere. Disagreements between Prime Minister Maliki’s government controlled by the Shiite majority, and the minority Sunni people have encouraged many Iraqis to support extremist groups that have connections with Al Qaeda.
Political stability unlikely
Faced with this situation, the Iraqi government has launched operations to wipe out the rebels, increased military recruitment to strengthen its power against Al Qaeda and imposed a curfew. But, these measures are only short-term. To end the escalation of violence, the Iraq government needs to take long-term steps because the cause of the current violence in Iraq is the worsening disputes between ethnic groups following the US military intervention in 2003. The struggle for power can only be resolved through negotiations. Prime Minister Maliki needs to focus on improving the status of Sunni Muslims and on finding ways to share power between ethnic and religious groups, not on increasing military weapons.
The violence in Iraq is due to political instability and conflicting interests between ethnic groups. Adding more weapons would be a risky remedy for the situation in Iraq and would likely result in even more violence.