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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Iraqi Frustration Swells Over Coalition Approach to Fighting Insurgents - Government and Militia Leaders Criticize U.S.-Led Effort for Being Too Small and Too Slow

From The Wall Street Journal:

BAGHDAD—The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State is coming under growing criticism in Iraq, complicating the mission as Washington ramps up its forces in the country.

Many Iraqis initially welcomed the foreign help last summer as the militant group swept through the north and pushed toward the capital. Islamic State has lost momentum since then as airstrikes helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain key cities.

But now, more Iraqis are criticizing the U.S.-led campaign—especially the effort to rebuild Iraq’s military—as too slow and too small.

The swelling disapproval reflects Iraqi impatience at the U.S.-led mission’s multiyear strategy against Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Many Iraqis see the insurgents as an immediate threat pulling their country apart amid immense suffering.

Some Iraqis even believe the coalition is aiding the extremists by airdropping weapons into the third of the country they control.

The public criticism highlights the challenge the U.S. faces in explaining the mission to the country’s divergent, often rival, Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish communities—each jostling for its own favored outcome.

“The international coalition against ISIS is a comedy act,” said 30-year-old Hamza Issam, a bakery worker in Baghdad. “America can destroy ISIS in one day only, but it does not do it.”

Iraqi officials have stepped up their public criticism of the campaign, drawing lively interest in the Iraqi press. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said this week that the coalition was moving too slowly to build up the army.

The U.S. military, which is leading a 12-country mission to train Iraqi forces after units melted away last year, is saddled with the troubled legacy of its 2003 invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein. The last U.S. troops from that war withdrew from Iraq in 2011. About 2,200 U.S. trainers and advisers are now in Iraq, a number that could grow to 3,100 under an expanded mission announced by President Barack Obama in November.

The rising public frustrations with the campaign are fueled by political posturing over what the coalition should be doing.

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