Obama solves the Mt. Sinjar crisis!
Militants’ Siege on Mountain in Iraq Is Over, Pentagon Says
WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials said late Wednesday that United States airstrikes and Kurdish fighters had broken the Islamic militants’ siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of the Yazidis trapped there to escape.
An initial report from about a dozen Marines and Special Operations forces who arrived on Tuesday and spent 24 hours on the northern Iraqi mountain said that “the situation is much more manageable,” a senior Defense official said in an interview.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to reporters Wednesday night at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., said it was “far less likely now” that the United States would undertake a rescue mission because the assessment team reported far fewer Yazidis on the mountain than expected, and that those still there were in relatively good condition.
That's good news, and solves Obama's humanitarian dilemma about using ground non-troops in a non-combat role.
But not so fast!
Despite U.S. Claims, Yazidis Say Crisis Is Not Over
ISTANBUL — Yazidi leaders and emergency relief officials on Thursday strongly disputed American claims that the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq had been broken and that the crisis was effectively over, saying that tens of thousands of Yazidis remained on the mountain in desperate conditions.
Speaking from her hospital bed here, Vian Dakhil, an Iraqi member of Parliament and a Yazidi leader who was injured in the crash of a helicopterdelivering aid to the mountain on Tuesday, said she was aware of the American claims and had discussed them with Yazidi leaders still in the area.
“It’s not true,” she said.
“It’s better now than it had been, but it’s just not true that all of them are safe — they are not,” Ms. Dakhil said. “Especially on the south side of the mountain, the situation is very terrible. There are still people who are not getting any aid.”
She estimated the number of Yazidis trapped on the southern flanks of Mount Sinjar at 70,000 to 80,000.
Ms. Dakhil’s assessment of the seriousness of the Yazidis’ plight was supported by United Nations humanitarian officials, who on Thursday were unequivocal that there remained a major crisis among the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.
“The crisis on Mount Sinjar is by no means over,” said David Swanson, the spokesman for the United Nations coordinator of humanitarian affairs in northern Iraq, interviewed by telephone from Dohuk, in northern Iraq. “Although many people managed to escape from the north side, there are still thousands of others up there, under conditions of extreme heat, dehydration and imminent threat of attack. The situation is far from solved.”
Hmm. I can see why Yazidi and UN officials might want to exaggerate, but I can also see why the Pentagon might feel pressured to declare everything to be hunky-dory. Normally it is CNN news crews that find and promote the next humanitarian crisis, so I guess we need to stay tuned.