Iraq PM seeks US assistance, weapons
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki travelled to Washington Tuesday to seek assistance and arms to mitigate countrywide violence, according to Reuters.
"The urgent thing is to supply Iraq as quickly as possible with weapons of an offensive nature to combat terrorism and chase the armed groups," said the Prime Minister at an airport news conference prior to his departure flight.
Baghdad has previously asked Washington to expedite F-16 plane deliveries, but Maliki has recently said publicly that they now need helicopters rather than the F-16s to contain the Sunni attacks.
Iraq's security forces, who have been trained and equipped by the United States at a price of $25 billion struggle to maintain order in the country, particularly as Sunni attacks on Shiite areas escalate. According to the Reuters report, 7,000 civilians have been killed in 2013 alone due to sectarian clashes and insurgent attacks.
Baghdad considers recent violence in the country as the "worst in years," often citing the civil war in neighboring Syria as reason for the deteriorating situation in Iraq. The al-Qaeda linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has recently conducted various attacks along the Syria-Iraq border. Maliki thus reportedly plans to seek Washington's cooperation with Baghdad in terms of border control to avoid further spillovers of violence into the country.
However, critics of the PM cite the marginalization of Iraq's Sunni majority under Maliki's government as the central cause of the escalating countrywide violence.