News / Middle East

White House Explains Reasoning for Iraq Air Strikes

U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 7, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 7, 2014.
Luis Ramirez

White House officials said reports of the dire and deteriorating situation of Iraqi Christians and Kurds, along with the gains made by militants in the past week, triggered President Barack Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes and other military action in Iraq.

It was a combination of factors that finally brought President Obama to authorize U.S. warplanes to strike Islamic State militants and cargo planes to drop food and water to help thousands of desperate refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the urgent reports the president saw this week about the dire and deteriorating situation were the No. 1 reason.

"Those reports were deeply disturbing and certainly influenced the president's decision to take military action in support of the humanitarian mission there."

Militants with the Islamic State have been sweeping across northern Iraq, terrorizing Christians and Kurdish members of the ancient Yazidi sect, thousands of whom are taking refuge on the mountain where they have been without food or water for days.

Earnest says the second reason is the intelligence the president has been receiving about the militants' advances toward the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, where the United States has a consulate and a number of military advisors.  

“That also led to the president's conclusion that a more robust military action could be required to ensure the safety and security of those American officials in Irbil,” he said.

U.S. officials said the president decided to act in order to help the Iraqi leadership after seeing what he views as positive signs it is moving toward setting up a more inclusive government.  

Officials suggest more strikes are to be expected, saying there is no end date on the president's authorization for military action. Earnest said President Obama will leave the targeting decisions to U.S. military officials.

“He will not be in a situation where he is signing off on individual strikes, but there will be regular consultation from the president's military commanders to their commander-in-chief about the situation on the ground and about the strategy that they're pursuing."

Although he has set no end date for the airstrikes, the president has emphasized the United States will not be dragged back into a prolonged military conflict in Iraq and has repeatedly said he will not send American combat troops back into that country.

The latest U.S. strikes and humanitarian drops were at the invitation of Iraq's government, and the president has said the U.S. expects the Iraqis to resolve the crisis themselves.

You May Like

Russian Help on Iran Less Promising on Syria, Ukraine

US-Russian collaboration to secure a deal on Iran's nuclear program has raised hopes of closer cooperation on other world issues More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

US-Ethiopia Relationship Strong, But Complicated

While Ethiopia serves as a valuable security ally and a bulwark against terrorism - the U.S., is a major aid donor and economic stimulator More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
August 09, 2014 7:29 AM
Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a safe, positive location for military support or deployment. It's geostrategic location is conducive to US military action. The radicalist challenge there also calls for a military response. An efficient deployment in Iraq may even be in the global interest of US defence strategy, unlike the Afghan deployment, which has geopolitical conflicts perhaps because of its proximity to the Russian and Pakistani borders.

by: Patrick from: Ca
August 09, 2014 4:22 AM
Where is the world going? Putin is outa control trying to revive the soviet era, and we are trying to feed gmos to everybody, hard to pick a side, how bout this we all stop acting like tards!

by: Not Again from: Canada
August 08, 2014 9:08 PM
The President is correct, neither the Christians nor the Yazadis have attacked any one, nor are they armed terrorists, nor are they persecuting anyone, and both groups are approaching/nearing extinction in their ancestral lands.
The World is fully aware of the massive crimes the terrorists from IS have carried out against Sunni, Shia, and Christians in Syria; we can also observe the material that IS has posted, about their extreme brutality; in addition, Al-Baghdadi has made it amply clear that he intends to destroy all Shia, and all other religeous groups; he has also laid out his plans for a caliphate that would include Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon... There is no question or doubt that IS is a threat to the Region, the Western World, and clearly it needs to be destroyed. An Iraqi unity government, would go a long way in ensuring, that Western actions, in helping the downsizeing of IS would make it a feasible undertaking. Without an Iraqi unity gvmt, it would be very difficult to deal and carry out the actions necessary that will ensure the defeat of IS. I do not think that Malaki has the leadership attributes, that will lead to a unified Iraqi state, a basic necessary pre-requisite to defeating IS.

by: Reberd from: Kurdistan
August 08, 2014 6:31 PM
Good move. The world needs such decisions especially when the world is at risk of this barbaric ISIS terrorists. Also, provide heavy weapons to the Kurds as the strikes might not be enough against such a group.

by: Anonymous
August 08, 2014 6:28 PM
So no ground troops to Iraq. What happens if a fighter is shot down? Or malfunctions and the pilot needs to bail out? You are going to rely on the Iraq troop to find the US pilot? Can you assume IS has no missiles to fire on airplane?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backersi
X
Michael Bowman
July 26, 2015 8:44 PM
Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Underground Streetcar Station In Washington, DC, to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Rise in HIV Infections Worries Ugandan Officials

Uganda had the third-highest number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa last year, reversing its reputation for successfully tackling the epidemic in the 1990s. Although the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS is still half of what it was in the 1980s, the increase in new infections is worrying to health workers. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs