John Kerry in Baghdad as Iraq faces continued ISIS blitz

Crushing the feeble resistance shown by Iraqi forces, the Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continued to engulf more strategic parts of Iraq, capturing a key border crossings to Syria and Jordan.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Jun 23, 2014, 16:13 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Baghdad: Crushing the feeble resistance shown by Iraqi forces, the Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continued to engulf more strategic parts of Iraq, capturing a key border crossings to Syria and Jordan.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday arrived in Baghdad after his Jordon trip and is set to meet PM Nuri al-Maliki over the US measures underway to assist the besieged nation as it faces a blitz of ISIS takeovers.

Evn though there have been calls for PM Maliki`s resignation in US Senate, Kerry made it clear that the US was not "picking and choosing" Iraq`s leaders. However he is supposed to urge Maliki to form a new government that will be inclusive and represent all of the people of Iraq, especially Sunnis and Kurds who have felt marginalised under the Shiite-led government.

"The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq," Kerry told reporters in Cairo yesterday.

Earlier, speaking to the CBS news, US President Barack Obama warned that the ISIS expanse in Iraq could further worsen Syria war and the Sunni extremism could also spill over into the neighboring Jordan as militants would try to amass more weapons and resources from Iraq.

` `Face the Nation` show, Obama said that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant poses a medium and long-term threat, and the United States must be alert. However he added that the US can’t address the concern alone and must follow a strategy of collaborating with the local authorities to reinforce their security.

“What we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play whack-a-mole and send US troops occupying various countries wherever these organisations pop up,” he said.
The US, which has ruled out sending combat troops to Iraq again, is trying to look for alternatives other than military option to solve the recent crisis in Iraq. The US is mulling over working with the Middle Eastern nations, most of them led by Sunni governments, to curb the Sunni militant group`s growth.

Besides sending an aircraft carrier and few warships to the Gulf, the US has also sent 300 military advisers to Iraq to help protect the US interests in Iraq.

“We’re going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we’re going to have to train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs,” Obama told the CBS news.

Authorities in the United States and the Middle East have blamed the current crisis on PM Maliki`s marginalistaion of Sunni Muslims and want him to quit so that the country`s Sunnis can be assured of an inclusive government that addresses their concerns equally.
The ISIS militants have now under their control three border crossings and four more towns in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where they had taken Fallujah and Ramadi way back in January this year.

The militants gained significantly on Sunday with the takeover of two border crossings – al-Waleed on the Syrian frontier and Turaibil on the Jordanian border – after they had taken a similarly border post in the western town of Qaim.

Al-Waleed lies west of Rutba, which along with three other western towns Qaim, Rawah and Anah, fell under the clutches of the militants on Friday and Saturday, escalating the tension for Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki.

Rutba is on the main highway from Baghdad to the two border crossings. This brings the militants closer to the capital as the ISIS will have to travel just four hours to reach Baghdad reportedly.

The capture of border crossings to Syria and Jordan is a matter of great concern as the militants could then remain in contact with their fellow militants across the border and assist them with the arms and weapons looted from Iraq. This could further widen and strengthen the network of the ISIS militants whose main aim is building an Islamic Caliphate state straddling the Middle East.

With more towns falling in the jaws of Sunni militants, who are relentlessly pushing ahead with their lightning offensive that started last week, the crisis in Iraq may worsen to a dangerous proportion, and spread to the neighboring areas as well.