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Iraqi PM: Terror has 'second chance' in Iraq

01 November 2013, 08:31

Washington - Terrorists "found a second chance" to thrive in Iraq, the nation's prime minister said on Thursday in asking for new US aid to beat back a bloody insurgency that has been fuelled by the neighbouring Syrian civil war and the departure of American troops from Iraq two years ago.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a packed auditorium at the US Institute of Peace that he needs additional weapons, help with intelligence and other assistance, and claimed the world has a responsibility to help because terrorism is an international concern.

"If the situation in Iraq is not well treated, it will be disastrous for the whole world," said al-Maliki, whose comments were translated from Arabic.

"Terrorism does not know a single religion, or confession, or a single border. They carry their rotten ideas everywhere. They carry bad ideas instead of flowers. Al-Qaeda is a dirty wind that wants to spread worldwide."

The new request comes nearly two years after al-Maliki's government refused to let US forces remain in Iraq with legal immunity that the Obama administration insisted was necessary to protect troops. President Barack Obama had campaigned on ending the nearly nine-year war in Iraq and took the opportunity offered by the legal dispute to pull all troops out.

Nearly 4 500 US troops were killed in Iraq between the 2003 invasion and the 2011 withdrawal. More than 100 000 Iraqi were killed in that time.

Al-Maliki will meet on Friday with Obama in what Baghdad hopes will be a fresh start in a complicated relationship that has been marked both by victories and frustrations for each side.

Within months of the US troops' departure, violence began creeping up in the capital and across the country as Sunni Muslim insurgents lashed out, angered by a widespread belief that Sunnis have been sidelined by the Shi'ite-led government.

"So the terrorists found a second chance," al-Maliki said - a turnabout from an insurgency that was mostly silenced by the time the US troops left.

Shortly after al-Maliki's speech, White House spokesperson Jay Carney called continued US aid to Iraq "necessary" and said "denying that assistance would be contrary to our interests."

- AP


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