Firmly ruling out the possibility of American boots on the ground in Iraq in the face of escalating sectarian violence there, U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he would nevertheless be sending 300 “military advisers” to Baghdad and also remain prepared to take “targeted,” “precise,” military actions in the future.
“American combat troops will not be fighting in Iraq again,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “Ultimately this is something that will have to be solved by Iraqis.”
The President explained that the military personnel would be sent to Iraq to examine how to train and equip Iraqi forces, and this would come on the heels of Washington’s steps to increase its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations to better understand the threats to Baghdad.
Yet Mr. Obama appeared determined to hold firm to the view that U.S. combat troops would not return to Iraq as that could not resolve the core issues the country is currently facing.
He said, “"We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq.”
Among the key priorities that Washington had in the country, he said, was to create joint operation centres in Baghdad and northern Iraq, which would share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIS, the extremist group that has captured at least two cities and a major oil facility.
Further, Mr. Obama said, “Through our new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, we’re prepared to work with Congress to provide additional equipment.”
Ultimately, however, the U.S. hoped for success through diplomatic efforts with Iraqi leaders and countries in the region to support stability in Iraq, he noted, pointing out, “At my direction, Secretary Kerry will depart this weekend for meetings in the Middle East and Europe, where he’ll be able to consult with our allies and partners.”
He added that not only should Iraq’s neighbours respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, all of them “have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq does not descend into civil war or become a safe haven for terrorists.”