Kerry visits Baghdad amid Iraq security crisis - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Kerry visits Baghdad amid Iraq security crisis

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US Secretary of State John Kerry US Secretary of State John Kerry
BAGHDAD, Iraq -

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would like to see Iraqi leaders form a government representative of all Iraqis' interests. During a visit to Baghdad Monday, Kerry met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, militants gained new ground in northern and western Iraq.

Sunni tribes took control of a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan late Sunday after the Iraqi army withdrew.

There is a great deal at stake in Iraq. The United States spent nearly a decade and thousands of lives to build a new political system in the country. Kerry's goal is to try and prevent all that the U.S. helped put in place from disintegrating.

Militants from ISIS and their allies from Saddam Hussein's former regime now control nearly all of the border with Syria and Iraq. They took over areas near Jordan as well, but the Iraq military isn't showing that to its people. Instead, the army is releasing footage of a big counter-offensive with troops on move and conducting airstrikes.

However, he Iraqi military's offensive capability is extremely limited, and ISIS is taking advantage of it.

Secretary of State John Kerry is now in the region to try to help the Iraqi government out of the crisis, but stopping in Cairo on his way to Baghdad, Kerry was challenged, a journalist asking if the United States isn't responsible by invading Iraq in the first place.

"What's happening in Iraq is not happening because the United States in terms started this crisis. The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide the Iraqis the opportunity to have their own governance and have their own government," Kerry responded.

Many in the Middle East aren't buying that the United States gave Iraq opportunity, but that it failed to use it.

In Baghdad, Kerry met with Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki amid growing calls for him to step down.

"The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq," said Kerry.

But say Kerry said the United States can't choose Iraq's political leaders for it.

Secretary Kerry's mission is extremely difficult. The United States doesn't have nearly the amount of leverage it did a few years ago. The Iraqi army is still collapsing, and Prime Minister Maliki shows no signs he's willing to step down.

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