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August 11, 2014

U.S. sends weapons to stem violence in Iraq

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The U.S. has begun sending military weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq to stop the advancement of a militant Islamic group that threatens to take over the region.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Sunni group that some have called a terrorist organization, has advanced throughout northern Iraq, targeting Christian and Yazidi minority groups and leaving thousands struggling to survive.

In the town of Sinjar, ISIL gave the Yazidis an ultimatum: to convert to Islam, pay a fine, leave their homes or be killed. ISIL executed several dozen Yazidi men and kidnapped their wives for unwed jihadi fighters. Thousands of Yazidis fled to Sinjar Mountain and are now trapped without food or water.

The US has conducted several airdrops of water and prepackaged meals on the mountain in the last week, but refugees are still dying from dehydration and exposure.

ISIL aims to establish a Sunni Islamic state across areas in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The group captured several towns in Iraq as well as the country’s largest dam last week.

The group’s recent gains in Iraq also threaten the Kurdish capital of Irbil, the site of a U.S. embassy and several dozen American military trainers.

The U.S. has conducted airstrikes aimed at ISIL since Friday in the first U.S. military operation in Iraq since troops finished withdrawing in 2011.

Obama has repeatedly stressed that U.S. troops will not re-enter ground combat in Iraq, but that he would use military force if there was a direct threat to Americans or to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

To stop ISIL’s advance in Iraq, it is crucial that Iraq form a government that unifies the country’s majority and minority groups, according to Feisal Istrabadi, who served as Iraq’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations from 2004 to 2007.


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Iraq?
  2. What is the definition of a terrorist group?
  3. What are the differences between the following terms: revolt, revolution, insurgency, civil war?
Discussion questions
  1. Some Americans are opposed to the government’s decision to become involved in the current conflict in Iraq. What are some good reasons to support the decision to get involved and some counterpoints against those reasons?
  2. How could it be a risky move for the U.S. to provide weapons to Kurdish forces?
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