Progress made in Iraq conflict

By Zachary Toillion

Since Obama first announced a new military campaign in Iraq on August 7th, the conditions in the country have changed considerably.

The goal of US operations was to prevent the genocide of the Yazidis, a Kurdish speaking religious minority that resides in northern Iraq. The Yazidis live on Mount Sinjar which was under siege from the terrorist organization ISIS. The goal involved targeted airstrikes of ISIS and humanitarian aid for the Yazidis. The secondary goal was to protect cities with American diplomats from ISIS through targeted strikes.

The Pentagon estimates around 4,000 Yazidis remain on the mountain and as many as half are unwilling to leave. Most of the Yazidis have escaped ISIS forces by fleeing to Syria through a path defended by kurdish military forces. As many as 70,000 Yazidis have escaped, but ISIS forces killed an estimated 500 people.

The improved conditions surrounding Mount Sinjar has led to a shift in policy. The U.S. has stopped sending humanitarian aid to the area as our European Allies have begun pledging their own humanitarian aid drops. The US will continue airstrikes as needed if ISIS forces approach Iraqi cities with American diplomats.

The domestic politics of Iraq also changed on Thursday, August 15, when Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki resigned as Prime Minister of Iraq. Maliki had been widely criticized for shutting rivaling religious sects out of the halls of power.

Iraq remains a tumultuous state but one that is in a significantly different situation compared to two weeks ago.

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