Iraq’s former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, told a local TV station on Sunday that the administration of ex-US President Barack Obama had played a crucial role in the creation of Daesh by allowing the terrorist group to occupy Iraqi territories, PressTV reported.
Maliki, who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2014, reportedly said that the United States had provided Iraq with intelligence and aerial images, locating with great precision positions of Daesh terrorists, who had lined up behind Iraqi borders in Syria.
According to him, large groups of fighters were waiting to cross into neighbouring Iraq after what they believed was going to be the impending downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Maliki elaborated that back then Iraq had shortage of fighter jets capable of attacking Daesh positions, while combat helicopters did not have the range to bomb them.
Therefore, Baghdad turned to Washington for assistance and asked the Obama administration to deliver “one or two” fighter jets to the Iraqi Air Force under the 2008 security agreement between the two countries.
The United States, however, turned down the request and suggested that the Maliki government ask Jordan for help, the report claims. Given that there was not a military cooperation deal between Baghdad and Amman at the time, it was not an option for the Iraqi authorities.
Nonetheless, the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division was sent to root out the terrorists without air support and managed to make some progress before finding itself in the midst of a deadly siege that killed its commander and nearly wiped out the whole division.
Maliki claimed that US support for Daesh did not end there: Washington halted all supplies of helicopter parts and other military equipment to Iraq and stopped its obligations under a contract to sell F-16 attack aircraft to Baghdad, which had paid for them in advance.
The former prime minister then elaborated that he still couldn’t comprehend why the Obama administration made those decisions, thereby allowing Daesh get away by refusing to bomb their positions.
On US Withdrawal from Iraq
Maliki agreed with remarks made by incumbent President Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential campaign that Obama was the “founder” of Daesh, since he fully evacuated Iraq at the wrong time to let the terrorist group overrun it.
“We should never have gotten out the way we got out. We unleashed terrible fury all over the Middle East. Instead of allowing some small forces behind to maybe, just maybe, keep it under control, we pulled it out”, Trump said in August 2016.
Maliki then said that Washington never asked for permission to return to Iraq after its full troop pull-out in 2011, and questioned Trump’s decision to keep 5,500 US troops in the country to “watch” Iran, saying, that his government had never requested the Pentagon to send in its forces.
Concluding his interview, the ex-PM advised the current government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be cautious and not to get on the wrong side with the United States, contending that the Trump White House was causing Iraq trouble.
Even though it was President George W. Bush who came up with the plan to bring American troops back home from Iraq, it was his successor, Obama, who completed the full withdrawal in 2011.
By April 2013, the Islamic State of Iraq had merged with al-Nusra Front*to form the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. After seizing vast territories in Iraq and Syria in 2014, Daesh proclaimed itself a cross-border caliphate with capitals in Iraq’s second-biggest city, Mosul, and Syria’s Raqqa.
The same year, President Obama ordered American troops to be dispatched to Iraq to counter the growing threat posed by Daesh, which was conducted in cooperation with Iraqi officials.
By the end of Obama’s second term in December 2016, Daesh was said to have conducted or inspired more than 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries beyond Iraq and Syria, “where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll”.
“Maintaining American troops at the time could not have reversed the forces that contributed to ISIL’s rise: a government in Baghdad that pursued a sectarian agenda, a brutal dictator in Syria that lost control of large parts of the country, social media that reached a global pool of recruits, and a hollowing out of Iraq’s security forces”, Obama said in December 2016 during remarks at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.