On Saturday both in his weekly address and later in a speech to the press on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the nation on the United States’ role in protecting American citizens as well as civilians in Iraq through airstrikes on ISIL targets and humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi Kurdish civilians on the verge of genocide.
He made it clear to all that while the U.S. will do what it can to alleviate the suffering of civilians and to help give support to Iraqi security forces against ISIL while Iraqi officials work on the necessary political solution to build a more inclusive government, American combat troops will not reinstitute ground operations in the country.
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” President Obama stated. He continued, “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis there.”
However, he then added, “What we will do is continue our broader strategy in Iraq. We will protect our citizens. We will work with the international community to address this humanitarian crisis. We’ll help prevent these terrorists from having a permanent safe haven from which to attack America. And we’ll continue to urge Iraqi communities to reconcile, come together and fight back against these terrorists so the people of Iraq have the opportunity for a better future—the opportunity for which so many Americans gave their lives in Iraq in a long and hard war.”
A political solution within Iraq’s government whereby all three major groups of Iraqi citizens — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — are given a fair voice in governmental affairs is most likely the only means by which a united Iraq can ultimately move forward and have the required unity to repel threats like the present incursion within a large section of the country by ISIL militants.
While Obama noted during his press briefing the need for U.S. involvement in humanitarian aid airlifts to supply food and water to Kurdish civilians trapped by ISIL on Mount Sinjar, he also mentioned that there are growing humanitarian crises in other parts of Iraq due to ISIL.
“We will continue to work with the international community to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq,” the President resolved. “Even as our attention is focused on preventing an act of genocide and helping the men and women and children on the mountain, countless Iraqis have been driven or fled from their homes, including many Christians.”
President Obama acknowledged that the need for a difficult political solution within Iraq along with the need for the Iraqi military, with U.S. help, “to revamp, get resupplied” and to “have a clearer strategy” means that “this is going to be a long-term project.”
When asked by a reporter if he regretted pulling troops out of Iraq, the President reminded all that the decision for the United States to withdrawal from Iraq was determined by Iraq and agreed to by the Bush administration.
He then remarked that the fault of the current crisis within Iraq lies with the Shiite-led government which for years has refused the minority Sunni population a voice in the government, has imprisoned Sunni leaders and has abandoned the Sunni tribes which were instrumental in the success of the 2006 “Awakening.”
President Obama on Saturday also commended U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on his continuing work in Afghanistan to help the two Afghan presidential contenders agree to move their nation forward with an election audit.