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President Obama on Iraq

Jun 13, 2014|

President says insurgent foothold on Iraq is wake up call

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

What if one takes some time. Give you a quick update about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday I convened a meeting what my National Security Council to discuss the situation there and this morning I received an update for my team. Over the last several days we've seen significant gains made by IS IL. Terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria. In the face of a terrorist offensive. Iraqi Security Forces have proven an able. To defend a number of cities which is allow the terrorist overrun. Part of Iraq's territory and this poses a danger to Iraq and its people. And given the nature of these terrorists it could pose a threat eventually American interest as well. This threat is not brand new. Over the last year we've been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi Government would increase training. Equipping and intelligence. Now Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities. Of Iraqi Security Forces. We will not be sending US troops back in the combat in Iraq but I have asked my. National security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support. Iraq security forces and I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead. I do want to be clear about this is not solely or even primarily. In military challenge. Over the past decade American troops. Have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis. An opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately. Iraqis leaders have been unable. To overcome too often the mistrust. And sectarian differences. That have long been. Simmering there and that's created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi Government as well they're security forces. So any action that we may take. To provide assistance to Iraqi Security Forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by. Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian difference. To promote stability. And account for the legitimate interest of all of Iraq's communities. And it continues to build the capacity of an effective security force that we can't do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort. Short term military action including any assistance we might provide. Won't succeed. So there should be a wake up call Iraq's leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions. And compromises. On behalf of the Iraqi People in order bring the country together. In that effort they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. Iraq's neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process. Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq and nobody is gonna benefit from suing Iraq descend into chaos. So the United States will do our part. But understand that ultimately it's up to the Iraqis as they sovereign nation to solve their problems. Indeed across the region we have ever doubled our efforts to help build more capable counterterrorism forces of the groups like IS IL. Can't establish safe haven and won't continue that through our support of the moderate opposition in Syria. Our support for Iraq and security forces and our partnership with the other countries across the region. We're also gonna pursue intensive diplomacy. Throughout this period both inside of Iraq and across the region. Because there's never going to be stability in Iraq or the broader region unless there are political outcomes but allow people to resolve their differences peacefully without resorting to war. Or relying on the united states military. Will be monitoring the situation in Iraq very carefully over the next several days. Our top priority will remain being vigilant against any threats to our personnel serving overseas. We will consult closely with congress as we make determinations. About appropriate action and will continue to keep the American people fully informed. As we make decisions about the way for. Our ultimate question. I think that we should. A look at the situation carefully we have an interest in making sure that. A group like IS IL which is of a vicious organization and has. Been to able to take advantage of the chaos and Syria but they don't get a broader foothold. I think there are dangerous. Of fierce sectarian fighting if for example this terrorist organizations try to overrun. Sacred Shia sites which could trigger she assuming conflicts. That could be very hard to stamp out. So we have. Enormous interest there and obviously. Our troops and the American people and American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices. In order to give Iraqis the opportunity. To chart a better course better destiny. But ultimately they're gonna have to season. As I said before we are not going to be able to do it for them. And you know given the very difficult history that we've seen in Iraq. I think that any objective observer would recognize that. In the absence of accommodation among the various factions inside of Iraq. Various military actions. By the United States by any outside. Nation. Or not gonna solve those problems over the long term not gonna deliver the kind of stability that we need. Everybody else Mr. President is being Syrian civil war spilling over the Iraq War. Well I think I think that's I think that's been evident for some time. I SIL has been able to gain a foothold in Syria that's part of the reason why we've been so concerned about it. That's part of the reason why we've been supporting. The Syrian opposition mayor. But it's shelter problem in Iraq. The Iraqi Government which was initially resistant. To some of our offers of help. Has come around now to recognize that. Cooperation what was on some of these issues can be useful obviously that's not the case in Syria where. Present a side. Has no interest in seeing us involved there and where. Some of the governments that are supporting us on. Have been able to block for example. UN efforts even if humanitarian. But this is a regional problem and it is going to be a long term problem and what we're gonna have to do is combine. Selective actions. By our military to make sure that we're going after terrorists who could. Farmer personnel overseas or eventually. Hit the homeland we're gonna to combine that with what is a very challenging international effort. To try to. Rebuild. Countries and communities that. Have been shattered by a sectarian war. And that's not a music test. Well we're we're in contact with a map so we'll have a better sense. By the end of the weekend. After those consultations. And we will be. I'm getting a better sense from them. How they might support an effort. Two to bring. You bring about the kind of political unity inside of Iraq that bolsters security forces look the United States has poured a lot of money. Into. These Iraqi Security Forces and we devoted a lot of training to Iraqi Security Forces. The fact that. They are not willing to stand and fight and defend their posts. Against. Admittedly hardened terrorists but not. Terrorists who are overwhelming in numbers. Indicates that there's a problem. Where is morale. There's a problem in terms of commitment. And ultimately that's rooted in the political problems that have plagued the country. For very long time last question classless thing. You can you talk a little bit about US concern of the disruption potential disruption of oil supplies. Well so far at least. We have not seen major disruptions. In oil supplies obviously if in fact I SIL. I was able to obtained control over. Major output significant refineries. That could be a source of concern. As you might expect global markets react to any kind of instability in the Middle East. One of our goals should be to make sure that in cooperation with other countries in the region not only are we creating some sort of backstop. In terms of what's happening inside of Iraq but if there do end up being disruptions inside of Iraq that some of the other producers in the gulf. Or were they able to pick up the slack so that'll be part of the consultations we'll be taking place during the course of this week I just to give people a sense of of timing here. You know although events on the ground in Iraq have been happening very quickly. Our ability to plan. Whether it's military action or. Work with the Iraqi Government on some of these political issues it's gonna take several days so people should not anticipate that. That this is something that is gonna happen overnight. We want to make sure that we. We have good eyes on the situation there we want to make sure that we've gathered all the intelligence is necessary so that if in fact. I do direct and order. Any actions there that they're targeted to precisely they're gonna have an effect. And as I indicated before and I wanna make sure that everybody understands this message. The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan. By the Iraqis. They gives us some assurance that they're prepared to work together. We're not gonna. Allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation. In which. While word bear. We're keeping a lid on things and after enormous sacrifices by us as soon as we're not there is suddenly. People end up acting in ways that or not conducive to long term stability and prosperity grew of the country. All right thank you very much urban.