Saturday, December 27, 2014

No Way Out for Iraqis Who Helped U.S. in War

Iraqi Colleagues of U.S. Troops Are Marked for Death by Islamic State
The first emails from Iraq landed in John Kael Weston ’s inbox while he was eating breakfast at a Utah ski resort. Islamic Statefighters had just seized Fallujah, and the former State Department diplomat fired off a worried message to the Iraqi policeman who helped him over and over again during the war’s darkest days.
Former diplomat John Kael Weston, shown in Fallujah, 
where he worked from 2004 to 2007 with the Marines, 
said he feels guilty and helpless about Iraqi colleagues who 
are now being hunted by Islamic State. John Kael Weston
“Are you and your father and family ok?” Mr. Weston asked Saad Abu Fahad. The American and Iraqi were neighbors in Fallujah, taught each other about their country’s politics and always stayed in touch by email. “If you can, please send me a message—does not need to be long,” Mr. Weston wrote.
Two days came and went. No reply. He tried again: “Are you and family ok? Stay safe, my friend.” After again getting no answer, he assumed Capt. Saad was on the run or dead.
War forces people to make choices, and many of them don’t work out. With large swaths of Iraq under control of Islamic State, many of the Iraqis who put their lives on the line to aid the U.S. during the nearly nine-year war are being marked for death by militants as collaborators. The Americans who counted on them and are now safe at home can only wait, wonder and worry.
One Iraqi begged a retired Marine general he had gotten to know during the war: “Come quickly or we’re all dead.”
Retired Marine Gen. John Allen , put in charge by President Barack Obama of assembling the international coalition to fight Islamic State, gets the desperate notes for help in his personal email account. They are “heart-wrenching,” says Gen. Allen, who forwards them to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and military officers running airstrikes against Islamic State.
Maj. Gen. Larry Nicholson, twice the Marine commander in Fallujah, says the Iraqis “did so much for us” and are paying a horrible price for it. In replies, he urges the Iraqis to stay safe and strong. The retired general who got the plea to “come quickly” has responded four times but heard nothing.
Like other U.S. military officers and diplomats who got information, support and even friendship from Iraqis during the war, Mr. Weston feels helpless and guilty about those left behind. He was political adviser to the Marines in Fallujah from 2004 to 2007—and remembers the promises made to win Iraqi cooperation. They helped turn the tide in Fallujah and elsewhere.
“We wanted them to believe that we wouldn’t abandon them,” says Mr. Weston, 42 years old.
Read the rest of the Story HERE.

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