James Forsyth

The US steps up its involvement in the war for Iraq

The US steps up its involvement in the war for Iraq
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If you want to know how serious the situation in Iraq with Islamic State is, just look at what the Americans are doing. President Obama, who made his political name by opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has now asked Congress to approve sending another 1,500 troops there—taking the total number of US forces in the country to roughly 3,000.

Tellingly, the Washington Post reports that, these troops will now not be based mainly in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil as they were previously. Instead, they will have a base in Anbar Province, one of the places where the so-called Islamic State has held territory, and north of Baghdad. They will also be attempting to train nine Iraqi army brigades.

The consolation is that the American feel able to step up their involvement because the new Iraqi government is far more inclusive and less sectarian than the one led by Maliki. But the fact that Washington does not believe that the Iraqi government will be able to retake Mosul, the second largest city in the country, until 2015 is a sobering reminder of how well dug in Islamic State are. There is going to be a terrorist enclave in the heart of Middle East for quite some time.