US PRESIDENT Barack Obama said last night that he would not rule out military action in Iraq, as the country descended further into violence following the fall of Mosul and Tikrit to Sunni Islamic insurgents.
The turmoil has been reflected in global markets this week, with Brent crude oil hitting a three-month high of $112 (£66.50) a barrel yesterday and energy companies making gains on fears that the unrest would tighten supply.
The American President’s open stance on military action was not backed by the UK government, as foreign secretary William Hague said the coalition would not consider sending military assistance, but would seek to support Iraq with humanitarian aid.
It comes as Iran is reported to have sent military forces to help fight the Sunni insurgents in Tikrit.
“There will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily,” Obama said yesterday. “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in Iraq, or Syria for that matter.”
The nation is teetering on the brink as tensions in major cities reached new heights yesterday. Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of oil-rich Kirkuk and the Sunni jihadi group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which has already taken Mosul and Tikrit, announced plans to take control of Baghdad, in the rival Shia heartland, by force. The fighting comes amid concern that control is slipping away from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A key vote to grant him emergency powers did not take place after MPs failed to turn up.