Political turmoil grips Iraq; Kurds use US bombings to retake Iraqi towns from ISIS
By End the Lie
Iraq is now seeing heightened political turmoil with special forces loyal to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki were deployed in Baghdad after Maliki criticized Iraqi President Fouad Masoum on state television.
Security forces and tanks were deployed to multiple Baghdad neighborhoods, two Iraqi police officials said to CNN. The reason for the growing number of troops in Baghdad “was unclear,” according to CNN, but analysts say Maliki does not want to hand over power.
Meanwhile, Kurdish forces retook Iraqi towns from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, thanks to American airstrikes delivered by drones and fighter jets.
The Kurdish peshmerga forces were able to regain control of two key towns in northern Iraq on Sunday.
The airstrikes took out three military vehicles being used by ISIS and damaged others, while also eliminating a mortar position, according to the United States Central Command.
The New York Times reports that body parts from at least three militants were seen near the wreckage of three vehicles in the recaptured town of Gwer.
The fighters also retook Mahmour, according to Gen. Helgurd Hikmet, the head of the peshmerga’s media office. Both towns are within a half-hour drive of Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
American airstrikes also targeted ISIS militants surrounding Mount Sinjar, where the militants drove thousands of the Yazidi ethnic and religious minority.
Food, water and supplies were also dropped on Saturday to help Yazidi and Kurdish fighters attempting to open a path of escape for Yazidis.
Those who escaped on Sunday used Syrian territory to arrive at the Kurdish-controlled town of Fishkhabour.
Still, tens of thousands of Yazidis remain on the mountain. American officials said that the airstrikes alone could not open a way for them to escape, nor would the limited strikes be the decisive factor in stopping ISIS.
“This is a focused effort, not a wider air campaign,” said Col. Ed Thomas, spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. “It’s important to understand that our military objectives are limited in purpose.”
The political situation in Iraq doesn’t look much better.
Maliki has refused to step down as prime minister and accused the newly elected president of violating the constitution by extending the deadline for Iraqi political coalitions to nominate a candidate for the position of prime minister.
While many analysts say the deployment of troops and tanks could be related to Maliki’s refusal to step down, others say it could be a response to ISIS advances in the country.
“It could be a show of force. If you’re talking about protecting government buildings, there may be a sense that ISIS forces may be closer than everybody thinks at this point, and so depending on what the undercurrent in Baghdad right now, that could be a great sign for concern,” retired Marine Gen. James Williams said. “But it may also be a concern that there’s a coup afoot.”