Reed weighs in on Iraq

(WPRI) — Lawmakers here in New England are closely watching the developments in Iraq, particularly how the United States chooses to get involved.

Eyewitness News caught up with Rhode Island’s senior senator in Newport Saturday, for insight on a rapidly deteriorating Iraq. Senator Jack Reed expressed low confidence in the country’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

“The Maliki government has militarized the politics and politicized the military.”

The Shiite dominated government has been accused of marginalizing the country’s Sunni and Kurd minorities. Senator Reed says unless al-Maliki becomes more inclusive, his administration will continue to be under intense pressure from Islamic militants.

“Our hope is that he can make these transformations and that we can provide limited advice and assistance, but certainly not the kind of extensive military support that he might be hoping for.”

President Obama denounced the option of U.S. combat troops on the ground, though a small group of special forces is headed to the region as military advisers.

“There are some people who have been talking about air strikes, but air strikes in direct support of Iraqi troops are very difficult operationally to carry off. And then you have to ask yourself what’s the ultimate objective? If it’s supporting a government that’s not functional, then I don’t think it makes sense. ”

The U.S. Navy has established a presence in the Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, and other vessels, continue to stand ready.

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