US considering all options in Iraq: Obama
Washington: President Barack Obama today said the US is considering "all options" in Iraq as it has a stake in making sure that jihadists do not get a permanent foothold in that country and in Syria.
"Iraq is going to need more help from us and it`s going to need more help from the international community," Obama said after his talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"So my team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them. 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," Obama said.
Obama said Iraq is an area that the US has been watching with a lot of concern not just over the last couple of days but over the last several months.
"And we`ve been in close consultation with the Iraqi government. You know, over the last year we have been providing them additional assistance to try to address the problems that they have in Anbar, in the northwestern portions of the country, as well as the Iraqi and Syrian border," he said.
"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 you know, our national security team is looking at all the options," the US President said.
Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have made a huge push and swept a large part of predominantly Sunni Arab territory in northern and north-central Iraq.
Meanwhile, forces from Iraq`s autonomous Kurdish region have taken control of Kirkuk.
"But this should be also a wake-up call for the Iraqi government. There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against these extremists," Obama said.
"And that is going to require concessions on the part of both Shia and Sunni that we haven`t seen so far," he said.
In response to a question, Obama said the US is prepared to take military action whenever its national security is threatened.
"The basic principle obviously is, that we, like all nations, are prepared to take military action whenever our national security is threatened," Obama said.
"Where the issues have to deal with the broader international order, humanitarian concerns, concerns around the rights to navigation, concerns around our ability to deal with instability or fragile states or failed states and the consequences for populations there and refugee flows, those sorts of international issues, wherever we can, our preference should be to partner with other countries. We`re going to be more effective if we can work with other nations," he said.
The US President reiterated that what has happened over the last couple of days underscores the need to have a more robust regional approach to partnering, training and partnering countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
"We`re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time. But what we can do is to make sure that we are consistently helping to finance, train, advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security. And that is a long and laborious process, but it`s one that we need to get started," Obama said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carey later told reporters that the US is not contemplating ground troops.
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