The president made the comments during a news conference at the White House today.
“We don’t have a strategy (on military action in Syria) yet,” Obama said. “Folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at.” (The New York Times, 28 August)
He said he was sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to assemble a consensus approach for rolling back the gains by the Islamic State.
“My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself,” Obama said.
“Clearly ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively,” he added. “That’s going to be a long-term project. It’s going to require us to stabilize Syria in some fashion.”
Obama rejected the notion that strikes inside Syria would have the effect of helping President Bashar al-Assad in his brutal and long-running Syrian civil war.
“I don’t think this is a situation where we have to choose,” Obama said. “We have to give people inside Syria a choice other than ISIL or Assad. I don’t see any scenario in which Assad is able to bring peace and stability (to his country.)”
Photo credit: President Barack Obama at his news conference in the White House, 28 August 2014. The photos of the president wearing a tan suit is going viral in social media! (Photo: The New York Times)