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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora