Obama says 'no timetable' for Iraq operations
The president held a press conference on our operations in Iraq before flying off to Martha's Vineyard for his vacation. He said that there was no timetable for operations in Iraq and that the Iraqis themselves would have to fight Islamic State forces.
U.S. airstrikes have "successfully destroyed arms and equipment" that terrorists with ISIS could have used against the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil in Iraq, U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday.
"We feel confident" that military efforts can prevent ISIS from slaughtering people on Mount Sinjar, where ISIS has been killing many members of the Yazidi minority, Obama said in remarks at the White House.
He declined to give a timetable for U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian air drops in Iraq. "Wherever and whenever (U.S.) personnel are facilities are threatened, it is my obligation ... to make sure they're protected," he said.
The Iraqi government and military will need to take a series of steps to improve the security situation, Obama said. "I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks. I think this is going to take some time."
There's a lesson in this situation for Afghanistan, the president said: If leadership wants a new government to work, then people of different factions and ethnicities have "got to accommodate each other."
While the U.S. can assist Iraqi security forces in fighting ISIS with airstrikes, ultimately it's up to Iraqis to secure their country, the president said. That will take an inclusive government, he said. "All Iraqi communities need to unite to defend their country," Obama said.
Obama said he spoke with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron about the situation in Iraq, and that both have agreed to join the United States in providing humanitarian assistance to Iraqis endangered by ISIS.
The president is going to have a long wait if he expects the Iraqis to form a government that represents all citizens. Prime Minister Maliki's authoritarian/sectarian administration has forced the Sunnis in Iraq to throw their lot in with Islamic State. And Maliki is refusing to create a government where all Iraqis would participate. Even in the face of the immiinent threat of catastrophe, Maliki is unmoved.
If nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of being hanged, Maliki should eventually relent. But will he still have a country when he finally gets around to it?