President Obama: Iraq Will Need More Help

In a brief statement Thursday afternoon, the president said all options are on the table when it comes to addressing the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

Iraqi firemen extinguish fire from the wreckage of a car following a car bomb explosion in the city of Nasiriyah, south of the capital Baghdad, on June 2, 2014. Clashes and shelling yesterday in and around the conflict-hit Iraqi city of Fallujah, which lies just a short drive from Baghdad, killed also 22 people. 
AFP/Getty Images
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
June 12, 2014, 9 a.m.

In the last few months, a mil­it­ant group has swept across Ir­aq, tak­ing over city after city. Bagh­dad may be next, and Wash­ing­ton is, for now, watch­ing it hap­pen in shock.

Pres­id­ent Obama spoke to re­port­ers briefly Thursday af­ter­noon about the worsen­ing situ­ation in the coun­try. “What we’ve seen over the last couple of days in­dic­ates the de­gree to which Ir­aq’s go­ing to need more help,” he said. “It’s go­ing to need more help from us, and it’s go­ing to need more help from the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity.”

He ad­ded: “This should be a wake-up call for the Ir­aqi gov­ern­ment.”

For the U.S., noth­ing is off the table right now. “I don’t rule out any­thing, be­cause we do have a stake in mak­ing sure that these ji­hadists are not get­ting a per­man­ent foothold in either Ir­aq or Syr­ia for that mat­ter,” he said. White House Press Sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney later cla­ri­fied: the ad­min­is­tra­tion is not con­sid­er­ing send­ing ground troops in­to Ir­aq.

The Is­lam­ic State of Ir­aq and Syr­ia, a Sunni mil­it­ant group, has seized some of the largest cit­ies in Ir­aq this week.

And the U.S. has to act fast. “I think it’s fair to say that in our con­sulta­tions with the Ir­aqis, there will be some short-term, im­me­di­ate things that need to be done mil­it­ar­ily, and our na­tion­al se­cur­ity team is look­ing at all the op­tions,” Obama said.

The White House has been con­sult­ing with Ir­aqi of­fi­cials about IS­IS for months, the pres­id­ent said. It has provided au­thor­it­ies there with mil­it­ary equip­ment and in­tel­li­gence sup­port. The New York Times re­por­ted Wed­nes­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has so far denied Ir­aqi Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al-Ma­liki’s ap­peals for U.S. air­strikes against ex­trem­ists.

Sev­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress who served in Ir­aq said Thursday that see­ing con­di­tions there de­teri­or­ate so quickly was like watch­ing all of their pro­gress get thrown away.

“Go­ing out across the desert I re­mem­ber the feel­ings that you have, won­der­ing if you’re go­ing to make it out alive,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. “Right now I won­der what that was all about. What was the point of all of that?”

×