As the military and humanitarian disaster on the ground in Northern Iraq rushes from bad to worse, to genocidal, the United States, or rather, America’s current political leadership, finally decided to intervene. In the evening of August 7, 2014 (coincidentally at the same time the first NFL pre-season games captured the attention of millions of Americans), President Obama went on television to announce that he was sending humanitarian aid to refugees in Iraq as well as authorizing “targeted” airstrikes on the forces of the Islamic State.
The situation in northern, central, and western Iraq since the rise of the Islamic State, a former branch of al-Qaida that has actually managed to seize large chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and establish what they term “The Caliphate.” The Islamic State militants are Sunni Jihadist fanatics whose goal is to rid the world -yes, the world-of Christians, Jews, Shiite Muslims, and any other non-believers. In territory they have seized, beheadings of those they consider heretics or enemies is the order of the day. They have driven much of the ancient communities of Iraqi Christians out of northern Iraq, and have forced nearly 40,000 Yazidis (non-Muslims that the Jihadists consider to be “devil-worshippers,” to flee for their lives. These refugees are currently on a mountainside with little food or water. They rightly fear that the Islamic State wishes to commit genocide upon them.
Also, the Islamic State forced Kurdish forces to retreat from the important Haditha Dam. With control of this dam, the Jihadist can threaten Baghdad and the entire downriver Euphrates River.
In response to all this, President Obama authorized airstrikes. As of this writing, it is not public knowledge whether or not actual airstrikes have taken place. What is known, is that three Air Force cargo planes, a C-17 Globemaster III and two C-130 Hercules transport planes spent about 15 minutes over the refugee drop zone on Thursday, August 7.
The three American planes dropped about 5,300 gallons of drinking water and about 8,000 meals into the area of the Yazidi refugees. The cargo aircraft were escorted by two F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes.
The situation on the ground is perilous. The Kurdish forces are arguably the best fighting force in Iraq opposing the militants, and they were beaten back by the Islamic State. It is known that Iranian ground forces are aiding the Shiite-led Baghdad government in central Iraq, while the Islamic State continues to grow in strength.
The world has indeed become a strange place when the United States and Iran end up on the same side in a war.