News / USA

    Obama: No Ground Troops in Iraq

    President Barack Obama talks about his administration's response to a growing insurgency foothold in Iraq, June 13, 2014, on the South Lawn of the White House.
    President Barack Obama talks about his administration's response to a growing insurgency foothold in Iraq, June 13, 2014, on the South Lawn of the White House.
    VOA News
    While promising to pursue diplomacy, U.S. President Barack Obama said Americans "will do our part" to help Iraq confront the Islamic insurgents rampaging through that country.
     
    "We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," Obama said, but he and his national security advisers "will be reviewing other options."
     
    The president, speaking from the White House grounds, said he and his team have been meeting since yesterday to address how to help Iraq turn back the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which he said threatens not only Iraq and the Middle East, but possibly American interests as well.

    Watch related video report by VOA's Luis Ramirez from the White House:
     
    Obama Says No US Troops in Iraqi
    X
    Luis Ramirez
    June 13, 2014 11:49 PM
    President Barack Obama is monitoring events in Iraq and will decide in the next few days how to help Iraqi forces -- as insurgents of the radical Islamist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, seize more of the country. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.

    The president said the militants who have overrun parts of Iraq are a threat to the Baghdad government and people throughout the country, and pose an active threat to American interests as well. He said division among Iraq's leadership has led to the current crisis.

    "Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future," said Obama. "Unfortunately, Iraqi 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 as their security forces."

    Though the U.S. already has increased training, equipment and intelligence, the president said, Iraq "needs additional support to break the momentum."
     
    He said any military action would have to be "targeted, precise and effective."

    He did not indicate what those actions might entail. But according to news reports, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush already is steaming from the Arabian Sea toward the Persian Gulf and U.S. fighter jets are stationed at bases within striking distance of the insurgents.  
     
    Obama said the government of Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, must exercise diplomacy and "work to set aside sectarian differences and account for legitimate differences" among all Iraqis.
     
    "We’re not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation," he said.
     

    Cleric calls for civilian fighters

    Also Friday, Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric called upon Iraqi civilians to join the country’s security forces in fighting the insurgents, AFP news service reported.
     
    A spokesman for the reclusive and influential Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani announced at the main weekly prayers at the Shiite shrine city of Karbala that “he who sacrifices for the cause of defending his country and his honor will be a martyr.”

    Kerry, British FM show unity

    In a show of unity earlier today, the foreign secretaries of the United States and Britain said their respective countries would work to help stabilize the situation there and push Iraq’s leaders to overcome sectarian differences and build political cohesion.
     
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, at a global summit in London, said on Friday that their nations would collaborate on support for Iraq’s government, under siege by ISIL militants.
     
    Rebels, who have seized several key cities and terrified civilians and Iraqi soldiers, are bearing down on the capital city of Baghdad.
     
    "We are laser-focused on dealing with the crisis at hand," Kerry said, saying he expects President Barack Obama to make "timely decisions'' on Iraq.

    The United States already has increased military shipments this year, especially in the last month, and has expanded training programs in Iraq and Jordan. The State Department announced yesterday it was providing more than $12 million in emergency humanitarian aid.
     
    "But just as important as any short-term action," Kerry said, is having Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki do more to overcome sectarian differences.
     
    "This needs to be a wakeup call for all of Iraq’s leaders," Kerry said.
     
    Hague, saying Britain was "looking urgently at ways to assist" in managing the crisis, said his government, like the United States’, is working with the United Nations Security Council and is providing assistance such as counterterrorism expertise.
     
    "We will work closely with the United States and with all our allies," Hague said, emphasizing that in stabilizing the situation, "this does not mean we are planning a military intervention ourselves."
     
    Call to end violence

    The men were joined in the press conference by actress Angelina Jolie, co-host with Hague of the summit on ending sexual violence in conflict. The international gathering drew hundreds of participants. Jolie said she found it "heartening to see so many male leaders … here to confront taboos."
     
    Kerry drew a link between the conference focus and the Iraq crisis, where an estimated 500,000 people have been displaced as ISIL militants took over the city of Mosul earlier this week.
     
    "Ending the cycle of violence is not just a personal priority, it is a priority … of the U.S. government and its allies," he said.
     
    Kerry called ISIL, notorious for beheadings, a terrorist organization "so extreme that even al-Qaida saw fit to disassociate itself for a time."
     
    ISIL, Kerry said, poses a threat not only to Iraq and the Middle East but to Europe and the United States. ISIL plots against the West have been exposed, he said, "so there is a vital interest" in continued U.S. involvement.

    The U.S. has had an advisory role in Iraq since withdrawing all troops in 2011 after eight consecutive years of war there.

    Connection with Syria
     
    The crisis in Iraq – in which parts of the Iraqi military has collapsed and Kurds, taking advantage of the chaos, siezed control of the northeastern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk -- is "a consequence of what is happening in Syria," Kerry said.
     
    Jihadists attracted to the fight to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have created "spillover violence, a spillover humanitarian crisis."
     
    "Everybody in the Middle East needs to be concerned," Kerry said.
     
    Kerry said the United States and its allies have been working on political leadership in Iraq for several years. He suggested the crisis might goad Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite sectarian factions to come together.
     
    "This may be a moment where [they] can actually coalesce," Kerry said, "recognizing there is a threat to them as a whole."

    VOA's Luis Ramirez contributed to this report from the White House.
     
    • Iraqi Shiite tribal leaders chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Baghdad, June. 13, 2014. 
    • People clean a street now under militant control, in the northern city of Mosul, June 13, 2014. 
       
    • Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard during an intensive security deployment in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
    • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants gesture from an army truck, Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
    • A volunteer waits to register to join the Iraqi army. The volunteers want to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, Diwaniya province, June 12, 2014. 
    • Sunni Islamist militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala, while U.S. President Barack Obama considered military strikes to halt their advance towards Baghdad. Seen here are members of Iraqi security forces chanting slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.
    • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants chant slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.

       
    • Members of the Kurdish security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk, June 12, 2014.

       

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 14, 2014 3:33 AM
    Our president panders diplomacy like getting a cup of coffee! Would you like cream and sugar, sir? A lot of us didn't care for the trigger-happy Bush-iness of the last presidency, but at least he did take firm action. Great idea Barack, let's talk about this, after all, it's not your children or family that's being slaughtered, raped, maimed, or having to flee for their lives!

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    June 14, 2014 2:36 AM
    This problem imported from Syria. USA, EU, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan, all were giving weapons, money and training for Al Qaida and its branches in Syria. Al Qaida and its branches is Terrorist Group, whose main aim to kill poor peoples, burn their properties, rape girls with support of Saudi Fatwa. What is their role in Syria, they kill unlimited poor Syrians in brute way. Every body knows this sad story even then USA supplied weapons for these terrorist groups to topple Assad Govt. They Hate Assad & Co, so they played this dirty game of this century. Supply weapons to Terrorist in the name of Civil Liberty, the same dirty drama they played in Libya because they hate Gaddafi. What is un secure life in Libya after departure of Gaddafi no body has time to read these sad, painful and full of tears story.

    by: terry from: new zealand
    June 13, 2014 6:39 PM
    What a waste of Western soldiers lives to see this happening. All the brutality involved in these murderous "conflicts", not only in the Middle East, but all over the .world. Through out history, it's always the innocent who pay the price, a very heavy one at that. At the core of it is all religions belief that their way is the right way. As has been proved in Western culture, the more educated the population becomes, the more they can discern between what is reality and what is fable. Resources should be put into educating and raising the living standards of all, instead of a system that creates extreme wealth for a few and extreme poverty for the many, who in turn are easily exploited in many ways.

    by: markjuliansmith from: Australia
    June 13, 2014 6:01 PM
    "Communities (cultures-Islam) tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness." (Albert Einstein, 1934)

    Change The Architect or Change Nothing

    by: Simon Chibueze Hill from: Nigeria
    June 13, 2014 5:42 PM
    God chooses America to be the master of international affair and fix world problems. Long live America.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 14, 2014 3:18 AM
    I'm sure USA appreciates that from Nigeria. But if you ever reference God, make sure you reference that God chooses the world, not just a particular place. The whole world is His choice, it's time we all realize that!

    by: Middle Majority from: The Middle
    June 13, 2014 5:32 PM
    Why in the world is it a prerequisite for this administration to take options OFF the table before they have even begun to deal with the problem. "No (U.S.) Ground Troops in Iraq" ... why? If you are going to get involved, why go in with one hand behind your back? Fix the problem, or don't. This one toe in the water diplomacy is bound to fail.
    In Response

    by: Sean from: Éire
    June 18, 2014 9:40 AM
    The well known fact of the matter is that the US and the US alone is responsible for creating this problem in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including countless women and children, lost their lives in an unjust war. The US owes it to Iraqis to restore their country to the state in which it found it in 2001. Saddam Hussain was not George Bush's enemy. It was a crime of unprecedented proportions when G Bush first invaded Iraq.

    by: Oli from: Las Vegas
    June 13, 2014 4:15 PM
    The world hates America, but expects us to fix all its problems. lets focus on back home and fix America. The country is broke but we continue to spend for other countries defense. Im so tired of these guys. Shia and Sunni it doesn't matter they hate each other and will continue to hate each other. All were doing is wasting money and American lives getting involved. Lets consolidate and focus that spending on America. Humanitarian aid never gets to the people that need it. The world is corrupt, let's work on our own issues back home. When every man woman and child has food clothing and medicine IN AMERICA, then maybe we can consider helping other nations...

    by: jermaine from: miami
    June 13, 2014 3:56 PM
    Too many innocent soldiers died in Iraq already... Bomb them and call it a day
    In Response

    by: Sean from: Éire
    June 23, 2014 4:57 PM
    Only a moron without any conscience would write what you do. The present situation in Iraq is the legacy of the two Bush presidents. It must fall to the US and the UN to restore Iraq to its former system of ruling its affairs. The US favours the democratic system because it allows corruption to flourish, The current intolerable situation in Iraq could never have come about under Saddam Hussain.

    by: Marvin Iavecchia from: South Florida
    June 13, 2014 3:55 PM
    "No (U.S.) Ground Troops in Iraq" - EXACTLY the reason we/they are faced with this catastrophe! Imagine what will happen when we pull out of Afghanistan!? Imagine if we had pulled out after WWII? We are still in Europe and Japan to this day with bases and Troops. Get it? Time to shudder most of those bases and build new ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unless someone else has any bright ideas?

    by: Barry Contrary from: Los Angeles
    June 13, 2014 3:24 PM
    Barack wants to use diplomacy again. Just who does he think he is going to be negotiating with? There is a band of Al qaeda-linked terrorists taking over Iraq, right now!
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