By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Iraq is rapidly spinning out of control. The Sunni Syrian rebel force, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have crossed the Iraq border in mass and seized the country’s second largest city, Mosul, are threatening the oil fields, and have executed hundreds (and possibly thousands) of their political opponents. Resupplied and reequipped with the abandoned weapons of the ineffective Iraqi army the ISIS army appears to be advancing on Baghdad itself.
On Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Congressman Bradley Byrne (R) from Montrose commented on the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the advances by ISIS forces after attending a Wednesday morning classified House Armed Services Committee briefing on the situation.
U.S. Representative Byrne said: “I am very concerned by the continuing reports of ISIS advances in Iraq. It is important to remember that this is not a rational enemy we are facing, but rather an extremist group that’s stated goal is to form their own country. They are committed to using very brutal means in order to advance their agenda.”
Rep. Byrne said, “I reject the idea that the United States should work closely with Iran, who remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, to resolve this crisis. We do not have normalized relations with Iran, and we should not forget that we remain in contentious talks over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. I also do not believe there is any intensive military role for the United States to play, including putting boots on the ground.”
Representative Byrne said, “The United States has spent a lot of time, an awful lot of money, and most importantly, American lives for a democratically elected Iraqi government to come into existence. We can’t now turn a blind eye to what is happening, and we must exert steady leadership in what is a very unstable part of the world.”
Most analysts think that the U.S. pulled out of Iraq too quickly. Due to Iranian influence on the Al-Maliki government in Iraq, a hoped for 10,000 U.S. troop presence was not agreed to. With the U.S. no longer there, Al-Maliki stopped paying much of his armed forces and purged most of his military’s leaders because they were not political supporters. Much of the military has melted away and the Sunni insurgents in Syria are taking advantage of the situation.
Almost U.S. Marines and Army troops are en route to Baghdad and our embassy staff have been evacuated. Four U.S. Navy warships including an aircraft carrier have been routed to Iraq. On Thursday, June 19th President Obama pledged that American forces will only advise Iraqi armed forces and would not be in combat.
The Iranians support the Shiite dominated Al-Maliki government of Iraq but are enemies of the United States. Iran also supports the Shiite supported Assad government in Syria, who has been fighting ISIS for almost two years, but Syria is also an enemy of the United States. The United States was supporting the Syrian rebels, until the growing reports of atrocities against civilians, particularly against the Christian population made that course politically unpopular. There is speculation that some of the ISIS forces may have received U.S. supplied arms and training as part of the American effort to topple the Syrian government.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.