Thursday, June 19, 2014

U.S. Will Create Joint Military Operations Centers in Iraq

300 U.S. Military Advisors Will Support Iraqi Military
President Obama said today that ISIL poses a threat “to the Iraqi people, to the region, and to U.S. interests.” He announced the U.S. will create joint operations centers with Iraqis in Baghdad and in northern Iraq “to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront [ISIL].”

The U.S. has significantly increased its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in Iraq, the president said. And it will send 300 military advisors to the country “to assess how [the U.S.] can best train, advise, support” the Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIL.

Obama said that the United States will be prepared “to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.” 

The president added that the United States will not take side with either Shia or Sunni sects in the current crisis and called on the Iraqi leaders to rise above their differences and come together around a unifying political plan for Iraq and its future.

Obama also called for convening of the new parliament now that the results of the parliamentary elections have been certified. The parliament names the country’s prime minister.

“The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents… all Iraqis,” the president said. (Reuters, 19 June)

On Iran: President Obama said the Iranians could end up fighting sectarian wars “in a whole lot of places” if they were to intervene in Iraq militarily only on the side of Shias. Instead Obama called on Iran to push for a new inclusive, multiethnic government in Iraq.

“Our view is that Iran can play a constructive role if it is helping to send the same message to the Iraqi government that we’re sending, which is that Iraq only holds together if it’s inclusive, and that if the interests of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd are all respected.

“If Iran is coming in solely as an armed force on behalf of the Shia and if it is framed in that fashion, then that probably worsens the situation and the prospect for government formation that would actually be constructive over the long term.

“I think, just as Iraq’s leaders have to make decisions, I think Iran has heard from us. We’ve indicated to them that it’s important for them to avoid steps that might encourage the kind of sectarian splits that might lead to civil war.

“Iran obviously should consider the fact that if its view of the region is solely through sectarian frames, they could find themselves fighting in a whole lot of places,” President Obama said. (The White House, 19 June)

Photo credit: President Obama at his news conference on Iraq. the White house, 19 June 2014 (ABC)

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