Iraq’s Al-Abadi makes in-per­son ap­peal to Obama

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NE­DRA PICK­LER

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider alAbadi is mak­ing an in-per­son ap­peal to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Tues­day for more help de­feat­ing the Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants, hop­ing re­cent gains in the fight will en­cour­age more in­vest­ment from a war-weary United States.

Seven months af­ter al-Abadi’s elec­tion raised hope in Wash­ing­ton for Iraq’s fu­ture, he’s mak­ing his first visit to the White House. Al-Abadi told re­porters Mon­day that the in­crease in U.S. airstrikes, weapons de­liv­er­ies and train­ing has helped roll back Is­lamic State forces, but he needs greater sup­port from the in­terna- tional coali­tion to “fin­ish” them. “We want to see more,” he said.

The White House sig­naled that more aid could be com­ing. Last week, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den touted mo­men­tum in the fight against the Is­lamic State group, and White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest said Mon­day, “If there are spe­cific ideas that Prime Min­is­ter Abadi has for stepped-up as­sis­tance, then we’ll ob­vi­ously con­sider them se­ri­ously.”

“This is a part­ner­ship that the United States is ob­vi­ously in­vested in,” Earnest told re­porters Mon­day. “And our suc­cess in work­ing with an in­clu­sive Iraqi gov­ern­ment has been im­por­tant to some of the se­cu­rity gains that Iraq has re­al­ized against ISIL in the last few months,” he said, us­ing an al­ter­na­tive acro­nym for the Is­lamic State group.

Ear­lier this month, Iraqi forces and al­lied Shi­ite mili­tias, backed by U.S. airstrikes, were able to re­cap­ture the city of Tikrit from the Sunni mil­i­tants in what was the gov­ern­ment’s first ma­jor victory in Iraq’s Sunni heart­land.

“More ef­forts to or­ga­nize, arm and in­te­grate the Sun­nis will­ing to fight ISIL are go­ing to be needed in the months ahead to lib­er­ate An­bar and Mo­sul,” the Is­lamic State’s strong­hold, Bi­den said in a speech Thurs­day at the Na­tional De­fense Uni­ver­sity pre­view­ing al- Abadi’s visit. Bi­den joked that he’s spent more time on the phone with the prime min- is­ter talk­ing over the is­sues than he spends talk­ing to his wife.

Jon Al­ter­man, direc­tor of the Mid­dle East pro­gram at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said Bi­den was try­ing to make the case that it’s worth in­vest­ing more at a time when many Amer­i­cans feel their coun­try has done enough.

“There’s a mil­i­tary cam­paign that the U.S. is help­ing wage, but it has more in­ter­nal prob­lems than I think peo­ple on ei­ther side are will­ing to ad­mit,” Al­ter­man said. “The re­al­ity is what we are try­ing to do is very dif­fi­cult, very com­pli­cated and many peo­ple ques­tion how uni­fied we are with the Iraqi gov­ern­ment on what we are try­ing to do.”

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