Petraeus said: “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias, or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight.” He is half-right. If the U.S. did intervene, it would indeed be acting as the air force for Shia militias, and for the weak Shia regime in Baghdad. However, the conflict in Iraq is already a Shia on Sunni Arab fight. And nothing the United States can do is going to change that.
“Petraeus: U.S. Must Not Become the Shia Militia’s Air Force,” by Nico Hines, The Daily Beast, June 18, 2014:
LONDON, England — David Petraeus, the former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, has issued a stark warning to those advocating U.S. military intervention against ISIS militias bearing down on Baghdad.
The architect of the successful “surge” strategy that helped to quell the last great outbreak of sectarian violence in Iraq almost a decade ago said there was a great risk that the U.S. would be seen as picking sides in a religious battle that has been waged for generations.
The former head of the CIA and one of the most highly respected generals in modern U.S. warfare said it was only wise to offer military support if the political conditions were exactly right in Iraq, a scenario that is virtually impossible to imagine in the near-future. “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias, or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight,” he said.
Petraeus said the only way the U.S. could intervene without further destabilizing Iraq would be if the Shia-led government in Baghdad was seen as fair and representative throughout Iraq.
“If America is to support then it would be in support of a government against extremists rather than one side of what could be a sectarian civil war,” he said at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty in London. “It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists, who happen to be Sunni Arabs, but extremists that are wreaking havoc on a country.”…