Iraqi Speaker told U.S. President Barack Obama’s envoy that the US-led coalition battling the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) needs to do more to help Iraq defeat the terrorists controlling large areas of the north and west of the country.
Selim al-Jabouri said he delivered the message in a closed meeting with retired U.S. Marine General John Allen, who visited Baghdad this week for talks with Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s government.
“Until now our feeling is that the international support is not convincing,” Jabouri told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “We might see participation here or there, but it is not enough for the tough situation we are passing through.”
ISIL gunmen swept through north Iraq last June, seizing the city of Mosul in a lightning offensive and approaching the capital Baghdad as Iraq’s army disintegrated.
The advance was contained by popular mobilization units allied to the Baghdad government and Kurdish peshmerga fighters. U.S. soldiers who withdrew from Iraq in 2011, eight years after invading to overthrow Saddam Hussein, have also returned to help re-train Iraqi forces.
But Jabouri, one of Iraq’s most senior politicians, said he told Allen that the international community must “activate its role” because Iraq feels that, despite air strikes and other assistance, it is fighting largely on its own.
News websites reported that Jabouri’s frustration echoed the more guarded comments issued by prime minister Abadi after his own meeting with Allen on Tuesday.
A statement from Abadi’s office after the talks said US-led alliance should “increase the tempo of the effective air strikes on ISIL positions”, and also called for the training program for Iraqi security forces to be expanded.
In June 2014, ISIL seized the north’s largest city of Mosul and towns across northern Iraq fell to the terrorists. They also expanded their control of large swathes of Anbar.
After ISIL nearly overran Iraq’s Kurdish region in the first week of August, Obama ordered air strikes on ISIL and assembled a coalition of western and Arab countries against ISIL. The US government has described Iraq as the central battleground in the war.