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Middle East

As Iraqi crisis escalates, Anglophone press slams Obama, Maliki

© AFP file photo

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-12

Opinion and editorial pages of major English-language publications have been tackling the currently escalating crisis in Iraq over the past day or so, finding fault with US and Iraqi governments alike. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look.

With Iraqi leaders asking the US for military aid to curb a violent Islamic insurgency in the north of the country, the opinion and editorial pages of major Anglophone publications are casting a sharply critical eye on the situation. The consensus seems to be that there’s enough blame to go around.

The New Yorker

“[T]he Obama and Maliki governments talked about keeping a residual force of American troops in Iraq, who would act largely to train Iraq’s Army and to provide intelligence against Sunni insurgents [….] Those were important reasons to stay, but the most important went largely unstated: it was to continue to act as a restraint on Maliki’s sectarian impulses, at least until the Iraqi political system was strong enough to contain him on its own. The negotiations between Obama and Maliki fell apart, in no small measure because of a lack of engagement by the White House. Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq. President Obama wanted the Americans to come home, and Maliki didn’t particularly want them to stay.

The trouble is, as the events of this week show, what the Americans left behind was an Iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own. What we built is now coming apart. This is the real legacy of America’s war in Iraq.”

The Guardian

“The Iraqi government, under the unenlightened rule of Nouri al-Maliki, a man as shortsighted as he is narrow-minded, has been the author of its own misfortunes. Ever since taking office in 2006, Mr Maliki has failed to be the national leader he should have been and, instead, has devoted himself to propping up his own Shia base, outmanoeuvring or subordinating rivals, and, increasingly, to excluding Sunnis from political power [….] Ultimately, the only way for Baghdad to win is to change the sectarian way Iraq has been governed in recent years. But whether Mr Maliki can be brought to understand that is another matter.”

Washington Post

“For years, President Obama has been claiming credit for ‘ending wars,’ when, in fact, he was pulling the United States out of wars that were far from over. Now the pretense is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain [....] Total withdrawal can instead lead to challenges like that posed by Iraq today, where every option — from staying aloof to more actively helping Iraqi forces — carries risks. The administration needs to accept the reality of the mounting danger in the Middle East and craft a strategy that goes beyond the slogan of ‘ending war responsibly.’”

Financial Times

“A decade after the disastrous US-led invasion, the West’s options in Iraq are severely limited. Washington may be able to help Mr Maliki at the margins with timely provision of materiel. But only the Iraqis can prevent their state from sliding into abject failure. Iraq would be better served by a national unity government, regrouping Shia, Sunni and Kurds. This is the only way to face down the zombie ideology of jihadism, which Mr Maliki has resuscitated as a result of his crass errors.”

The Wall Street Journal

“In withdrawing from Iraq in toto, Mr. Obama put his desire to have a talking point for his re-election campaign above America's strategic interests. Now we and the world are facing this reality: A civil war in Iraq and the birth of a terrorist haven that has the confidence, and is fast acquiring the means, to raise a banner for a new generation of jihadists, both in Iraq and beyond.”

The Nation

“In the United States, President Obama is being blamed by the Republicans and various hawks and neoconservatives for the crises in both Iraq […] and Syria [….] In Iraq, they say, Obama pulled American forces out too quickly, having not worked hard enough to arrange a long-term security partnership with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, creating a security vacuum that allowed the insurgency to regain its footing….Neither one of these charges makes much sense. In Iraq, the White House did indeed try to extend the American presence, but Iraq’s nationalists and its independent-minded prime minister, facing a rebellious, anti-American parliament—and, of course, strongly influenced by Iran—wouldn’t allow the US role to continue under the conditions that the American armed forces demanded.”

Date created : 2014-06-12

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