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Thu, 12 Jun 2014 17:13:46 +0000
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says all options remain on the table for a U.S. response to the situation in Iraq and that his team is working “around the clock” to develop an assistance plan.
“I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria for that matter,” Obama said from the Oval Office after a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. “My team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them.”
The president did not provide a direct answer when reporters asked if he’s considering drone strikes or other aerial support as part of that assistance, as the Iraqis have requested.
“In our consultation with the Iraqis there will be short term, immediate things that need to be done militarily. And our national security team is looking at all the options,” Obama said.
“But this should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government that there has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against these extremists and that’s going to require concessions on the part of the Shia and Sunni that we haven’t seen so far.”
Obama said that an inadequate sense of trust between Shia, Sunni and Kurds living in Iraq is responsible for “some of the weakness of the state and then that carries over into the military capacity.”
He said the U.S. would continue providing military equipment and intelligence assistance to Iraq as it has been for the past year. “What we’ve seen over last few days is that Iraq is going to need more help. It is going to need more help from us and it is going to need more help from international community,” he said.
The president emphasized a multi-lateral response to the deteriorating situation, reiterating a theme he laid out at West Point last month.
“We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time,” he said. “But what we can do is to make sure we are consistently helping to finance, train and advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security.”
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