The Obama Administration’s efforts to cobble together a coalition of nations for the new war on ISIS has netted a handful of Sunni Arab nations willing to conduct airstrikes inside Iraq, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and by some accounts Egypt.
The big problem is that no one asked the Iraqis if they were okay with this, and President Fuad Massoum today made clear that the Iraqi government considers such nations “unnecessary,” which is a polite way of saying extremely unwelcome.
It’s not hard to imagine why, as the Shi’ite dominated Iraqi government, allied with Iran, is not on the best of terms with the Sunni Arab world, and having those nations’ warplanes looming overhead is going to be problematic for Shi’ite leaders.
President Massoum is a Kurd, however, so it is rather surprising that he would be the one vocalizing government disquiet about the US moves to include such nations in the strikes, without consulting the Iraqi government.
Massoum’s comments came in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, in which he also expressed “regret” that the US was not allowing Iran, the primary nation currently involved in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, to even attend the coalition meeting in Paris.
France had similarly said they wanted to invite Iran to the coalition meeting, though the US insisted it was “not appropriate” to include them. It was seen at the time as a concession to the Sunni Arab nations which the US has been so desperate to include, but seems to be putting the coalition on a rather sectarian-looking footing to the Iraqis, and an unwelcome one at that.
Ever since putting itself on the path to a new war in Iraq, the US has been eager to put on the show of a broad “coalition,” even if it meant many of those coalition members weren’t doing anything. Keeping the Iraqi government more or less on board seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of getting more members, which is making the US intervention far less comfortable for all involved.