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Local Expert Weighs in on Iraq Conflict

Updated: 06/13/2014 10:14 PM
Created: 06/13/2014 7:30 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell

President Barack Obama is vowing that the United States will not be "dragged back" into military action in Iraq as long as leaders in Baghdad refuse to reform the political system. He has ruled out the possibility of putting U.S. troops on the ground to fend off a fast-moving Islamic insurgency. But he says he's considering a range of other options drawn up by the Pentagon.

"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq security forces, and I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead,” Obama said.

More than two years after American troops left Iraq, the U.S. may consider air strikes.

"It could be drones, it could be missiles, though I've heard that the preference would be for manned aircraft," said Joe Peschek, Professor and Chair of Hamline University's Political Science Department.

"I think the public appetite for American troops on the ground in the Middle East is quite limited. Now he is receiving political pressure from hawkish Republicans and Democrats to do more militarily, though they're somewhat vague," Professor Peschek added.

Thousands of Iraqi troops are surrendering to the insurgents who have Al-Qaeda links. And Iran may step in.

"It's not exactly clear what Iran is offering and what Iran is might actually do,” Peschek said. ”It's also unclear what the U.S is going to do, so what sort of strange bed-fellows this would is kind of hard to tell at this point, I mean Obama is emphasizing - this is going to take a few days to figure out, don't expect an overnight solution - but I have to think that that question of the Iran angle that he and his national security team are thinking about," Peschek added.

The city of Minneapolis has a "sister city" in Southern Iraq, Najaf. It's the site of the holy shrines for Shiia Islam. It's like Rome, for Catholics.

The Executive Director the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, in Minneapolis Kathy McKay says 50 Iraqis from Najaf have visited Minneapolis over the last five years, to do research and medical work.

And she's visited them.

"It's very personal, yes, it's very upsetting, there are a lot of emails among people here and with some of our friends there," McKay said. "Some of the rhetoric from these militants has been, we're going to take Baghdad and then we are going to get the shrines."

This is a fast moving story. Insurgents continue to cause chaos in Iraq. They call themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or "ISIS." Their goal is to form a radical Muslim state, throughout Syria and Iraq.

The region is already divided along ethnic and religious lines. Experts fear this will only increase tensions.

After nine years of war and sacrifice on the ground in Iraq, President Obama says no U.S. boots will be on the ground in Iraq.


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