Iraq is to ask the United States for weapons, training and manpower to help fight the resurgence of al-Qaeda, two years after US troops left the country as security talks broke down.
The request will be discussed during a White House meeting on Friday between the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the US president, Barack Obama.
“We know we have major challenges of our own capabilities being up to the standard. They currently are not,” Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the US, told the Associated Press news agency.
“We need to gear up, to deal with that threat more seriously. We need support and we need help.”
“We have said to the Americans we’d be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground.”
However, Faily did not rule out the possibility of asking the US to send military special forces or additional CIA advisers to Iraq to help train and assist Iraqi soldiers.
The US withdrew all but a few hundred soldiers from Iraq in December 2011 after Baghdad refused to renew a security agreement to extend legal immunity for US forces thatwould have let more stay.
At the time, the withdrawal was hailed as a victory for the Obama administration, which campaigned on ending the Iraq war and had little appetite for pushing Baghdad into a new security agreement.
But within months, violence began creeping up in the capital and across the country. More than 5,000 Iraqis have been killed in attacks since April, and suicide bombers launched 38 strikes in the last month alone.
If the US does not commit to providing the weapons or other aid quickly, “we will go elsewhere,” Faily said.
A senior Obama administration official said on Wednesday that officials were not planning to send US. trainers to Iraq and that Baghdad had not asked for them.