France yesterday announced that it will send arms to the Kurds in Iraq “in the coming hours” to help them defend their territory against fighters from the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The announcement by French President Francois Hollande’s office came as the US said it was also stepping up its role, with the Pentagon to send 130 more military advisors — US marines and special ops troops — to Iraq to assess the humanitarian crisis.
It is believed that the advisors’ main goal is to organize a land escape route for up to 30,000 civilians, mostly of the Yazidi religious sect, who are trapped on Mt Sinjar near the Syrian border, hemmed in by Islamic State militants who have threatened to kill them.
“In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms in the coming hours,” Hollande’s office said in a statement.
British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday in Portugal to return to Downing Street and decide on further steps the UK can take to assist the Kurds and Yazidis. Britain is already airlifting Jordanian military vehicles to Iraqi Kurdistan and taking part in air drops on Mt Sinjar.
In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stuck to his guns yesterday and refused to step down. However, his hold on power appears tenuous after both Washington and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, a long-time al-Maliki ally, publicly backed his replacement.
Taking to state TV as acting prime minister, al-Maliki said the Iraqi Supreme Court must rule on Iraqi President Fouad Masoum’s decision to ask al-Maliki’s Shiite Islamist party colleague Haidar al-Abadi to form a new government — a change that Iran, the US and many Iraqis see as vital to halt the advance of Sunni militants.
Al-Maliki has complained to the Iraqi Federal Court that, as leader of the largest bloc in the new parliament, he must by right be given the first chance to form a new government. The appointment by of al-Abadi is a breach of the constitution, he said.
Yet while the loyalty of at least some Shiite militia and government forces remains uncertain, there were further signs that al-Maliki, blamed for alienating the Sunni minority during his eight years in power, is isolated, even among fellow Shiites.
In a show of the escalating sectarian violence around Iraq, five Sunnis were killed yesterday in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, when Shiite gunmen stormed a mosque and shot them as they prayed, security sources said.
SOLIDARITY: A group of European lawmakers condemned China’s aggressive moves, while the foreign minister of Lithuania said Taiwan ‘cannot become a second Ukraine’ A German parliamentary delegation would visit Taiwan in the first week of October, German lawmaker Holger Becker on Monday told visiting Democratic Progressive Party legislators Fan Yun (范雲) and Lin I-chin (林宜瑾) at the Bundestag in Berlin. Asked by Fan whether he is worried about possible reprisals from Beijing, such as banning him and his family from entering China, Becker said he is more interested in visiting Taiwan, as “now is the time for democracies to stand together.” Fan and Lin also met with German officials to exchange views on digital education and governance. Investing in digital infrastructure and protecting equal rights to
As China waged extensive military exercises off Taiwan, a group of US defense experts in Washington was focused on their own simulation of an eventual — but for now entirely hypothetical — US-China war over the nation. The unofficial what-if game is being conducted on the fifth floor of an office building not far from the White House, and it posits a US military response to a Chinese invasion in 2026. Even though the participants bring a US perspective, they are finding that a US-Taiwan victory, if there is one, could come at a huge cost. “The results are showing that under
‘SIMULATED ATTACKS’: Ten warships each from China and Taiwan were maneuvering at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line Taiwan yesterday reiterated that it would not succumb to pressure from Beijing after China carried out its most provocative military drills in decades in retaliation for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last week. “We will never bow to pressure. We uphold freedom and democracy, and believe Taiwanese disapprove [of] China’s bullying actions with force and saber rattling at our door,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday. China had “arrogantly” disrupted regional peace and stability, he said, calling on Beijing to not flex its military muscles. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has also called on the international community to “support
DRILLS CONTINUE: China’s creation of a restricted zone across the median line of the Taiwan Strait challenges a 70-year-old fact, a ministry of defense official said The nation’s military fully complies with international rules and guidelines when responding to Chinese military drills, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday, vowing to continue defending Taiwan in accordance with international law. China on Thursday launched four days of military drills around Taiwan proper in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. The drills were expected to end on Sunday, but neither Beijing nor Taipei confirmed their conclusion, although the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it had seen some evidence suggesting at least a partial drawdown. However, China yesterday said the drills would continue, saying “the