'Dirty wind' troubles Iraq leaders
WASHINGTON — Terrorists “found a second chance” to thrive in Iraq, the nation's prime minister said on Thursday in asking for new U.S. aid to beat back a bloody insurgency that has been fueled by the neighboring 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 U.S. 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. “Al-Qaida is a dirty wind that wants to spread worldwide.”
The request comes nearly two years after al-Maliki's government refused to let U.S. forces remain in Iraq with legal immunity that the Obama administration insisted was necessary to protect troops.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq between the 2003 invasion and the 2011 withdrawal. More than 100,000 Iraqis were killed in that time.
Al-Maliki will meet Friday with President Obama in what Baghdad hopes will be a fresh start in a complicated relationship that has been marked by victories and frustrations for each side.