Sunday, August 18, 2013

Iraq would ‘welcome’ US drones to fight Al-Qaeda

Iraq’s foreign minister says that Baghdad is seeking US aid to fight terrorists, which could mean that lethal drones will soon be stationed in the country. It comes less than two years after US troops left Iraq amid unceasing sectarian violence.
The recent surge of violence in Iraq has prompted the country’s government to seek a new US aid package, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari told reporters on Friday. 

Zebari, who spoke in Washington during his US visit, said that “there is greater realization in the Iraq government that we should not shy away from coming and asking for some help and assistance.” 

When asked about details of the assistance package, top Iraqi officials said it could include a limitednumber of American counter-terror advisers stationed in the country. 

The officials added that the package could also include some aid in the form of intelligence analysis and surveillance assets, including unmanned aerial vehicles – otherwise known as drones – for targeted strikes.

The country’s government would “welcome American reconnaissance over Iraq” and near its borders, Zebari said. 

According to Zebari, the US has largely had an “indifferent” policy towards Iraq ever since US troops withdrew from the country in 2011, following failed negotiations on their prolonged stay. However, he says that Americans cannot help but be concerned with the rising Al-Qaeda influence in the region. 

Recently I noticed, and during this visit specifically, there is a renewed interest because of the seriousness of the situation and the challenges. I think that is because of the threat of terrorism, the threat of the renewal of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, has become a serious, serious concern to the US,” the Iraqi foreign minister said, as quoted by AP.