Thursday, March 05, 2015

Iran Is 'Taking Over Iraq' and Obama Must Put Boots on the Ground against Isil, Warns Saudi Arabia

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters during
a news conference with Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister
Saud al-Faisal, in Riyadh
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Thousands flee Isil-held Tikrit ahead of Iraqi assault as Saudi foreign minister calls for US coalition presence 'on the ground' to prevent Iran overrunning country

Saudi Arabia became the second key American ally in the Middle East to demand President Barack Obama change tack towards Iran on Thursday, as it called for US-led coalition "boots on the ground" to fight Isil.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told John Kerry, the US secretary of state, that he risked allowing Iran to "take over Iraq", echoing Israel's recent concerns over the White House's policy toward Tehran.

The United States and its coalition allies are attacking Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) positions from the air in both Syria and Iraq, but refusing to send troops. As a result, outside Kurdish areas the offensive in both countries is heavily influenced by Iran and its proxy Shia militias such as Hizbollah.

This has raised serious concerns in Saudi Arabia, Iran's Sunni rival for Middle East dominance.

The Iraqi government is currently attacking Isil positions in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown north of Baghdad. But most of its forces are under the command of government-aligned Shia militias, whose leaders are close to the Iranian regime, even though the population of Tikrit is largely Sunni.

Around 28,000 people have fled their homes in the face of the military operation, according to the UN.

"Tikrit is a prime example of what we are worried about," Prince Saud said. "Iran is taking over the country." » | Richard Spencer, Middle East Editor | Thursday, March 05, 2015

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