Iraqi Prime Minister meeting with President Obama to request weapons

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  April 13, 2015 at 10:35 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, will arrive to the United States in a visit where he is expected to request for additional weapons from President Barack Obama to fight the Islamic State.

The Islamic State has seized nearly one-third of Iraq. Last week, al-Abadi launched a campaign to drive IS out of Anbar, Iraq's biggest province -- a move to which the IS responded by launching attacks on Ramadi, the provincial capital.

Al-Abadi will meet with Obama on Tuesday. Iraq is facing divisions between sects Shiite, Sunnis and Kurds -- deepened during former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's rule.

Al-Abadi is seen as a potential leader to form reconciliation between divided sects. In August, he reached an agreement with Kurds about sharing oil revenue and has previously provided weapons to Sunni tribes in Anbar who are fighting the IS.

Vice President Joe Biden has praised al-Abadi for creating an inclusive government in "record time." Al-Abadi's potential request for weapons is likely to be received well by Washington, hoping to keep Iraqi military forces away from Shiite militias backed by Iran.

Iraq recently recaptured the strategic city of Tikrit away from IS capture.

"Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city," al-Abadi said in a statement, which also credited U.S. airstrikes for assisting.

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