Connecticut lawmakers skeptical of Obama’s engagement in Iraq

Washington – Connecticut lawmakers are skeptical of President Obama’s decision to approve “targeted” airstrikes on militants in Iraq and to drop food, water and medicine to civilians trapped by fighting in the mountains in the north of the country.

Obama took action as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is closing in on Baghdad, on its way to take down Iraq’s U.S.-backed government.

“Americans will not support a new open-ended military campaign in Iraq,” said Sen Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Murphy said the nation would support “extremely limited” humanitarian and military action in Iraq, “to prevent a genocide of the Yezidi community which had fled to the top of the mountains to avoid the fighting, and to protect American personnel from imminent harm. These are legitimate reasons for action, but the president needs to better explain how this intervention is strictly time and scope limited.”

Murphy said there’s a risk the intervention would draw the United States into the broader fight between Sunni and Shia forces in Iraq.

“This is a fight the United States must stay out of, and I will oppose any efforts to continue this military campaign in order to provide tactical advantage or disadvantage to either side of this conflict,” Murphy said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., shared Murphy’s concerns about U.S. involvement.

“I oppose open-ended military commitments, which the president’s actions in Iraq could become,” Blumenthal said. “Humanitarian relief is necessary to prevent genocide and provide food and water to meet an urgent emergency, but the president owes the American people a better, fuller explanation of the scope and strategy of military actions.”

A member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Blumenthal said he is “deeply concerned.”

Obama’s actions “could lead to prolonged direct military involvement, which I would strongly oppose.”

Blumenthal also said the U.S. should not be aiding Iraq militarily unless “there’s a new government that is inclusive and unifying.”

“I continue to believe that the current situation in Iraq is a failure of Iraq’s leaders, who have used the security forces – with training and equipment we provided – for their own sectarian ends, rather than uniting their country,” Blumenthal said.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said she supported Friday’s air strikes “to protect U.S. personnel, facilities, and security interests.”

“I also support narrow efforts to provide humanitarian relief and supplies to the tens of thousands of religious minorities in Iraq,” she said. “”However, I strongly believe that there is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq. I also oppose broader military intervention that takes sides in this larger sectarian conflict.”

Obama has resisted for week involving the United States in the bloody fighting sparked by ISIS.

On Thursday, he tried to explain his decision to allow U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops and promised limited involvement.

“I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these,” he said. “I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”

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