Iraq: ISIS Seizes Saddam Weapons Stockpile As Regional Actors Comment On US Involvement
ISIS’s Sunni Islamist militants have successfully overtaken what was once former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s chemical-weapons production site. US government officials believe that the site contains a decent quantity of old weapons. However, most are unsure if they can be used with any effect.
The Iraq study group 2004 report on the weapons site said: "Two wars, sanctions and Unscom oversight reduced Iraqi's premier production facility to a stockpile of old damaged and contaminated chemical munitions (sealed in bunkers), a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities,"
Meanwhile, some called for a shakeup within the ranks of the Iraqi governing structure.
Iraq’s chief Shia spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sistani, called for a new “effective” government Friday, which some see as calling upon Prime Minister Maliki to resign.
"It is necessary for the winning political blocs to start a dialogue that yields an effective government that enjoys broad national support, avoids past mistakes and opens new horizons toward a better future for all Iraqis," Sistani said in a message delivered by his representative.
Some note that Sistani, although much of a recluse who rarely comments publicly, has far more loyalty from Iraqi citizens than Maliki. Last week, Sistani called upon his fellow Shiites to defend Iraq. Shortly thereafter, thousands volunteered on his behalf.
Another Shiite cleric set a different tone, threatening US forces not to meddle in Iraqi affairs. During Friday prayers he said, "Our message to the occupier: ... We will be ready for you if you are back.”
A top Iranian official said Friday that he doubts US President Obama has the “will” to combat the ISIS militant jihadist group.
The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister said: "Delaying the fight against terrorism and ISIS and putting conditions on it have fuelled suspicions and doubts about the United States' objectives in Iraq. Obama’s comments show the White House lacks serious will in fighting terrorism in IRaq and the region.” The Deputy Minister even accused the President of fueling sectarian turmoil between Muslim sects. “Instead of focusing on fighting terrorism and national unity and strengthening the government institutions, the US is spreading sectarianism,”he said.
Iran’s Shiite government has largely supported the reign of fellow Shia, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
Meanwhile, a representative from the Saudi government told the United States and the UK that they should not get involved in Iraq. “this is Iraq’s problem and they must sort it out themselves,” said a Saudi Prince that serves as Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UK.