News / Middle East

White House Underscores Commitment to Iraq Amid Criticism

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington,Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington,Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Violence and escalating sectarian tensions are of increasing concern to President Obama, who according to his spokesman has been spending an increasing amount of time focused on Iraq.

Jay Carney says the president wants military assistance provided as quickly as possible.  That aid includes 100 Hellfire missiles, surveillance drones and Apache helicopters.

But since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's U.S. visit last November, lawmakers in Congress skeptical about the Iraqi leader's commitment to political reconciliation, and how aid would be used, have blocked the helicopters.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is prominent among those voicing concerns.

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner suggested Thursday that President Obama has not been sufficiently personally engaged on Iraq.

Boehner renewed a line of criticism heard chiefly from Republicans that blames the president for failing to achieve an agreement on leaving a residual U.S. force in Iraq.

"Starting with the president delegating his responsibilities to the vice president, the administration has chosen to spend much of its time and energy trying to explain why having terrorists holding key terrain in the Middle East is not the president's problem," said Boehner.  He added, "The United States has and will continue to have vital national interests in Iraq.  We must maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome there.  And it is time that the president recognize this and get engaged."

That is an "inaccurate representation," said Jay Carney.  Vice President Biden has generally overseen Iraq policy, but Carney said Mr. Obama is "very engaged" and working with Congress to accelerate arms shipments.

"When the president asked the vice president to oversee Iraq policy when they came into office in early 2009, that was widely viewed as a demonstration of the fact that the president took the need to move forward in Iraq and to wind down that war so seriously.  He brought it right into the West Wing, and that is where it resides today," said Carney. 

Republican Senator John McCain suggested Thursday that the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011 left the U.S. less able to influence the Maliki government.

"I do blame Prime Minister Maliki.  Responsibility lies with his behavior towards the Sunni; but we were not there to influence him.  We were not there."

Pressed by reporters about whether he favors sending U.S. troops back to Iraq, John Boehner said he does not think "that is called for at this time."  President Obama has ruled out a return of U.S. troops.

A Senate aide told VOA that after months of delay, the State Department has now indicated it is moving forward to respond to two key congressional concerns.

One involves assurances on how helicopters leased by Iraq's government would be used.

Another involves ongoing U.S. concerns about Iraq exerting tighter control over its airspace to prevent Iran from sending military equipment to Syria's government.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta Nigeria
January 10, 2014 12:07 AM
Boehner renewed a line of criticism heard chiefly from Republicans that blames the president for failing to achieve an agreement on leaving a residual U.S. force in Iraq and senator Mccain is blaming Obama for not allowing US troops to remain iraq and he with this republican members would always be that first to criticize him for the Killing of US personal in a conflict clearly caused by PM Maleki's undemocratic ways of leading a country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs