International media opinion on advantages of a transfer of power in Iraq even as it faces the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (Isil) might is united in its scepticism but on America’s intervention, it remains polarised.


The Economist says of the Obama intervention: “Now the prospect of a caliphate run by extremists bent on attacking the West has persuaded a reluctant Obama that he cannot walk away from the Mesopotamian mess, and he is trying a new tack — combining modest military force with hard-nosed political brinkmanship. Given conditions in the region, the chances of success are limited. But they are better than those offered by any other approach.”

On the new Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, it says, “Abadi is viewed by Iraqis as less divisive than [former prime minister Nouri] Al Maliki — but that is a low bar. It hardly bodes well that the new prime minister is a man from the same party as Al Maliki and with a similar outlook, subject to similar Iranian influence and hemmed in by the same hollowed-out institutions and acrimonious politicking. He now has 30 days to form a cabinet.” Creating a government sufficiently inclusive to win back the trust of Sunnis, and thus undermine Isil, it says, will be no easy task.”

A sentiment shared by USA Today. “Even with Al Maliki gone, the political task ahead is daunting,” says its editorial. “Months will be needed to unite the country’s fractious factions. But as soon as possible, Obama must face the Isil threat directly.”

On the ousting of Al Maliki, Pakistan Today (PT) says, “It was only a matter of time before Al Maliki caved in to pressure for his ouster. Of late, even Tehran began agreeing with Washington that a change at the helm had become necessary. But whether his chosen successor, Al Abadi from the same Dawa party, can put a more inclusive government in place by the mid-September deadline, or even if such toggling can arrest the country’s implosion, remains to be seen.”

On America’s intervention in Iraq, PT writes, “For the moment the Americans are happy pulling strings from afar. But if the situation worsens, active involvement might once again become necessary. It’s not just human rights that is at stake, there is also Iraq’s oil. And if Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites can’t help each other, it might take the US to protect oil fields in the south.” The Investor’s Business Daily, however, is sceptical of small measures. “... celebrating the replacement of the undeniably flawed Al Maliki is kind of like believing the election of a black president can stop urban race riots,” says its editorial. “The terrifying new Syria/Iraq caliphate that came to be because of President Obama’s premature withdrawal of troops, and whose forces Obama has reluctantly begun to bomb, is not impressed or threatened by a new Iraqi leader. Only destruction of that Al Qaida mutation, a certain future terrorist threat to our homeland, will be sufficient. And that will take a serious US-backed multipronged war effort.”

US re-engagement

Not all US media, however, is in favour of intervention in Iraq. For example,, an American news site, wonders at the logic of it all. “The United States is at war in Iraq again, and we wish someone would tell us why. We’d like to know why the humanitarian crisis that prompted this re-engagement was more compelling, more urgent, than other humanitarian crises that occur all over the world all the time... Time will tell if reinserting US military forces into the ever-roiling landscape of the Middle East will achieve what the president hopes — a rescue of panicked thousands, a retreat of Isil militants — or will turn out to be another error.”

While the politics of Iraq have divided the American media, the abominable act of Isil in capturing young Yazidi women and turning them into slaves prompted the Washington Times to draw stark parallels to the abduction of Nigerian girls, “When Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from a high school in Nigeria in May, the chorus of outrage was heard worldwide. Then the clamour to “bring back our girls” gradually receded to frustrated sighs. Last week, the abduction of more young girls broke into the news again. This time, the girls are Christians in Iraq... Isil is said to have “vicious plans” for hundreds of Yazidi women it has taken captive. All are under the age of 35.”

The paper quotes Vian Dakheel, the only Yazidi female member of the Iraqi parliament, telling her colleagues last week that “women have been sold in a slavery market” and refers to Boko Haram’s abduction last week of dozens of boys and men from a remote village in Nigeria, probably to make reluctant soldiers of them. “Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, a Republican, raised his voice last week with questions to shame this civilised world: “Where is the West? Where is the Obama administration?” Where, indeed,” it asks.