The United States strongly condemns the recent attack on the convoy of the Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Osama al-Nujaifi.
The United States strongly condemns the recent attack in Nineva province on the convoy of the Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Osama al-Nujaifi, one of the most senior Sunni political leaders in Iraq.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf noted in a statement that “Speaker Nujaifi has been a strong partner of the United States’ efforts in Iraq, and we are grateful that he was unharmed.”
She said the attack “exemplifies the danger terrorist groups pose to all Iraqis, and the importance of Iraqi leaders from all communities working together to isolate militant groups from the broader population.”
In recent months, there has been a surge of violence in Iraq, most of it the work of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
In testimony before Congress, Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, said ISIL’s current leader, U.S.-designated terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has clearly stated his mission: to carve out a zone of governing territory from Baghdad through Syria to Lebanon.
ISIL, Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk said, is now striking in Iraq along three main lines of operation: “First, it is attacking Shia civilian areas in an effort to rekindle a civil war…Second, it is attacking Sunni areas to eliminate rivals and govern territory…Third, ISIL is attacking the Kurds in Northern Iraq in disputed boundary areas to incite ethnic tension and unrest.”
The United States, Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk said, intends to help the Iraqis in their efforts to defeat ISIL over the long term. To further that end, the United States is pressing Iraq’s national leadership to develop a holistic security, political, economic strategy to isolate extremists from the population. “
This means,” said Mr. McGurk, “supporting local tribal fighters, incorporating those fighters into the security services and committing to April elections to be held on time.” The strategy also aims to support Iraqi security forces through accelerated military sales, training and information sharing. He noted that “the Iraqis have now equipped Caravan aircraft, for example, to fire Hellfire missiles, thereby denying ISIL safe haven in the western desert.
“Third, we are actively encouraging an aggressive economic component to mobilize the Sunni population against ISIL,” said Mr. McGurk. “Throughout, our message to all Iraqi leaders is firm: despite your differences across a host of issues, you must find a way to work together when it comes to ISIL, an organization that threatens all Iraqis.”