American sacrifices give Iraq chance for stable democracy – Obama


US President Barack Obama warned Friday that no amount of US firepower could keep Iraq together if its political leaders did not disdain sectarianism and work to unite the country. Obama is warning that only a new effort to frame an “inclusive” political system by Iraqi leaders will keep the country together and repel the challenge from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters who have seized several key cities in Iraq, including Mosul.

Obama told CNN, a day after announcing the dispatch of 300 special forces advisors to Iraq following a lightning advance by extreme Sunni radicals, that American sacrifices had given Iraq a chance at a stable democracy, but it had been squandered, informs AFP.

“There’s no amount of American firepower that’s going to be able to hold the country together,” Obama said in an interview.

“I made that very clear to (Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-)Maliki and all of the other leadership inside of Iraq.”

“We gave Iraq the chance to have an inclusive democracy. To work across sectarian lines to provide a better future for their children. And unfortunately what we’ve seen is a breakdown of trust,” Obama said.

Washington has pointedly declined to endorse Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite, who is blamed here for failing to reach out to the Sunni community in the two-and-a-half years since US troops left, thus laying the conditions for the current crisis.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama said he is prepared to send up to 300 military advisors to Iraq to help the Iraqi military fend off the militant Islamist threat. But he will only deploy “precise military actions” – an apparent reference to the airstrikes requested by the Iraqi government – once intelligence on the ground improves and if the situation demands it.

A few teams of about a dozen advisors each are to arrive “very soon” from their bases in the region, a senior administration official said on about the background details.

They are to focus first on helping Iraqi troops secure Baghdad, starting with the perimeter around Baghdad “and making sure that that’s not overrun,” Obama said.

A second joint operation center is to be set up in northern Iraq. The advisors will deploy to Iraqi military headquarters and possibly brigades, a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

They will “share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIL,” Obama said.

Obama insisted that the presence of advisors would not be a signal of return to combat in Iraq, and his administration was careful to refer to the military personnel as advisors, not troops.

“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,” he said.


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