Obama weighs evacuating 20,000 Americans from Iraq
Special to WorldTribune.com
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government fears its nationals could be abducted in the Al Qaida offensive in Iraq.
Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama was mulling an evacuation of up to 20,000 Americans in Iraq. They said many of them were advising the Iraqi military, including in central Iraq.
An image posted on a militant Twitter account today appears to show a banner bearing a black flag used by the Al-Qaeda inspired lslamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) hanging from an overpass in Mosul, Iraq. /AP
An image posted on a militant Twitter account shows a banner bearing the black flag of lslamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) hanging from an overpass in Mosul, Iraq. /AP
The most imminent threat was reported at the Iraq Air Force base in
Balad. Some 400 Americans from U.S. aerospace and defense companies had been
working at the base, with most of them already airlifted to Baghdad.
“Over the last 36 hours, the secretary has met a number of times with
senior military leaders to discuss events on the ground and to prepare
options for the president’s consideration,” Defense Department spokesman
John Kirby said.
Over the last few days, the Pentagon has briefed Congress on
contingency plans for Iraq. The options were said to have included
everything from intensive military training to U.S. air strikes on Al
Qaida’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“There is no scenario where we can stop the bleeding in Iraq without
American air power,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican
and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Officials said at least four of the 14 divisions in the Iraq Army were
dismantled as soldiers deserted in face of the ISIL onslaught. They said even soldiers assigned to Baghdad were coming to work wearing their uniforms over civilian clothes.
“That was a surprise to everybody, to have four major divisions fold as quickly as they did without even fighting,” Sen. Joseph Manchin, another member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.
So far, the administration, which ordered the deployment of an aircraft
carrier to the Gulf, has not announced plans to stop ISIL in Iraq. Officials
said Washington was engaged in intensive consultations with Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri Al Maliki, blamed for the Sunni-Shi’ite split.
“There is a clarity that what has been lacking in these last weeks and
months in Iraq is not a trained capacity of a military to respond, not an
ability of the numbers of people, frankly, in the military in Iraq to be
able to stand up to the several thousand in ISIL, but a lack of political
will,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/06/15/u-s-may-evacuate-americans-iraq-amid-threat-adbuctions-isil/