No troops to Iraq, but other options are being considered.
That was President Barack Obama’s message Friday in response to the lightning advance by Sunni militant fighters in Iraq that could threaten the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
In a statement delivered from the White House South Lawn, Obama said the United States “will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,” but that he would be reviewing a range of other options in coming days.
“This is not going to happen overnight,” the President said, adding that unless Iraq fixes its internal political problems, short-term military help from the United States won’t make much difference.
Critics blame Obama for Iraq crisis
Pressure for the United States to provide military support to Iraq’s struggling government has increased, with conservative Republicans blaming Obama for creating a security vacuum in 2011 by pulling out U.S. troops.
GOP critics also say that Obama’s unwillingness to provide significant military backing to opposition forces in Syria’s civil war has contributed to the ability of the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to attack in Iraq.
Obama, however, resists getting drawn into another military engagement there after the ending the nine-year conflict started by his predecessor.
Now the conflict threatens to widen. Iranian officials denied reports Friday that some of its elite forces were in Iraq to help bolster al-Maliki, a fellow Shiite.
SOURCE: Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen