As Qaeda Surges, US Sends Iraq Arms—but Precious Few

75 Hellfire missiles and 10 drones won't do the trick: expert
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2013 10:40 AM CST
As Qaeda Surges, US Sends Iraq Arms—but Precious Few
An Iraqi Army soldier, right, and a policeman, left, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.   (AP Photo/ Nabil al-Jurani)

A call for help from Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki has been answered, sort of: The US is sending dozens of missiles and drones to Iraq to help combat a burgeoning al-Qaeda that's driving the country's highest level of violence since 2008, the New York Times reports. The aid—75 Hellfire missiles already delivered and 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones set to arrive in March—are paid for by Iraq. The CIA will provide targeting assistance as an al-Qaeda affiliate is "seeking to gain control of territory inside the borders of Iraq," a State Department rep says. But will it be enough to stop attacks like these? At least one security expert doubts it.

"The real requirement today is for a long-range, high-endurance armed drone capability," he says. But since American-operated Predator drones are out of the question—Maliki can't ask for political reasons, and the US doesn't want to offer for fear he'll use them against political foes—al-Qaeda's resurgence is almost unchecked, as one Anbar cop says, the terror group is "moving and working under the sun without deterrent." As a result, says the security expert, there remains "one place in the world where al-Qaeda can run a major affiliate without fear of a US drone or air attack, and that is in Iraq and Syria." (Read more Iraq stories.)

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