A new Iraq war could be looming for the United States after militants seized large portions of the country, prompting Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to ask America for help.
This week, a group of militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over the city of Mosul, with threats to move their attacks even further. On Wednesday, the group seized the city of Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein.
With the latest advancement, the ISIS terrorist group is now just 95 miles north of the capital of Baghdad.
The fighting has troubled many as it shows a growing insurgency that spans both Syria and Iraq and the porous border that connects the two.
Iraq’s prime minister has reportedly asked the United States to conduct air strikes against the ISIS fighters. The United States has remained quiet on whether it would engaged in a third war in Iraq.
“We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Reports say that al-Maliki asked the United States to provide Iraq with the ability to operate drones, but said if America was not willing to do that, then asked if they would carry out airstrikes using warplanes or drones.
The militant group ISIS has shown to be particularly brutal, going too far with its methods even for al-Qaeda. They have released high-quality video showing targeted strikes against Iraq military members, including drive-by shootings and roadside executions.
Experts say if the United States does enter an new Iraq war, they must do so very carefully.
“U.S. military support for Iraq could have a positive effect but only if it is conditioned on Maliki changing his behavior within Iraq’s political system,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council official who visited Baghdad in early March. “He has to bring the Sunni community back in, agree to limits on his executive authority and agree to reform Iraqi security forces to make them more professional and competent.”
While the United States has not said if it will engage in a new Iraq war, the nation has offered help in stopping the militant leader. The US is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, commander of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).