The defeat of resurgent Islamic militant groups in western Iraq requires increased support from the United States, according to members of Congress and the Obama administration.
"If we don't want to see Iraq with large swaths of territory under militant control, and we shouldn't, we must be willing to lend an appropriate hand," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said at a hearing on Wednesday.
By Ashley Killough
President Barack Obama should send David Petraeus, a retired four-star general who ran the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, back to Iraq to help deal with the growing unrest in the country, Sen. John McCain said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Arizona Republican also weighed in on a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying he would have waited a bit longer to release the book, which offers a blistering critique of the Obama administration.
On Iraq, McCain said the country is not a lost cause and argued the United States can still offer assistance to help quell the renewed violence that’s rocked the country in the last year.
The 2008 GOP presidential nominee said he opposed sending combat troops back to Iraq, but added the U.S. can provide other kinds of aid, such as logistics support and Apache helicopters.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
The Pentagon is considering a proposal to train Iraqi forces in counterterrorism operations, a senior U.S. defense official tells CNN. It would be the U.S. military's most significant involvement with Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from that country two years ago.
If the White House and the Iraqis approved the proposal, U.S. troops would not enter Iraq, but instead would train Iraqi forces in a third country, most likely Jordan, the official said. The idea had been considered and rejected by the Iraqis in the past. But the U.S. Central Command basically has dusted off the idea and is trying to see if it can gain traction in light of growing violence in Iraq, especially in Fallujah and Ramadi.
By Elise Labott
Washington (CNN) - The recent fighting in Iraq has posed a serious challenge to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government, raising questions about his ability to hold the country together amid a rising insurgency.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States will help the Iraqi government in the battle against al Qaeda-linked fighters in western Iraq, but he stressed it won't send troops.
Here are five questions about the deteriorating situation:
By Lateef Mungin
Two car bombs targeting Christians killed at least 38 people in southern Baghdad on Christmas.
In Afghanistan, two rounds of "indirect fire" hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, but no one was hurt.
The incidents highlight the security challenges with which both Iraq and Afghanistan are grappling.
Both countries have had a heavy U.S. military presence until recently.
The departure of U.S. forces from Iraq has done little to curb the near-daily cycle of violence. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials are working on an important security pact to outline the future of American troops in Afghanistan.FULL STORY
By Kevin Liptak
President Barack Obama's meeting Friday with Iraq's leader will include discussion of how to counter a fresh rise in suicide bombers affiliated with al Qaeda, a senior U.S. official says.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is slated to visit the White House at the end of the week for a meeting with the President as tensions rise between Iraq's Shiite majority and its Sunni minority. Violence has been on the upswing - on Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people and wounded 25 others at a police checkpoint west of Mosul. In all, more than 6,000 people have been killed in attacks this year.
A bipartisan group of senators harshly criticized Maliki in a letter to Obama on Tuesday, writing that the recent security deterioration in Iraq was partially the Prime Minister's fault.
"Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki's mismanagement of Iraqi politics is contributing to the recent surge of violence," the senators wrote. Signatories included Republicans John McCain, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, and Democrats Carl Levin and Robert Menendez.
"By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country," the lawmakers continued.
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
The United States has obtained intelligence indicating that Iran "may be planning" a retaliatory strike against the American Embassy in Baghdad if the United States launches a military strike against Syria, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
He said that Iran has "a lot of Shi'a friends" in Iraq that would be willing to carry out an attack.
The official was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that the United States intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the embassy "and other American interests in Baghdad," if the United States struck Syria militarily for alleged chemical weapons use.
The State Department had no comment on the report, but added it had not taken any action in terms of security at U.S. diplomatic posts in Iraq.
By CNN's Greg Clary
The military's equivalent of the Supreme Court overturned the conviction Wednesday of a Marine found guilty of murdering a civilian during the Iraq war, saying he was interrogated after asking for a lawyer.
A court originally sentenced Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III to 15 years in prison for the murder of 52-year-old Hashim Awad in April of 2006.
Prosecutors said Hutchins, who led a Marine squad that dragged Awad from his home, shot him in the face several times and then placed a shovel and AK-47 near his body to make it appear he was an insurgent burying roadside bombs.
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
In a move that could send small numbers of U.S. military trainers back to Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has asked his top Middle East commander to look at ways the United States could boost military sales, assistance and training in that country as well as in Lebanon and Jordan as Syria's civil war continues to affect its neighbors.
Any deployment of U.S. forces would have to have those countries' approval, and so far there is no indication that Iraq or Lebanon would agree to accept U.S. troops.
By Kevin Liptak
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Baghdad that he pressed Iraq's leaders to take steps prohibiting Iranian planes from delivering arms to Syria's besieged government, which is battling rebels backed by financial support from the American government.
Iranian planes must fly through Iraq's airspace in order to reach Syria with deliveries of weapons and supplies. The flights are occurring almost daily, according to a senior State Department official accompanying Kerry on his stop in Baghdad.
"Anything that supports President Assad is problematic," Kerry told reporters, referring to Syria's leader. "And I made it very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are, in fact, helping to sustain President Assad and his regime."
Kerry's previously unannounced trip to Iraq came after he joined President Barack Obama on a trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. This week marked the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and the first time since 2009 that a U.S. secretary of state has visited the country. Obama last went to Iraq in April 2009.