Asked to address the escalating crisis in Iraq on Thursday, President Barack Obama appeared to concede that the use of military force was an option for stemming the tide of ISIS rebels rapidly gaining control of strategic points across that country. He said that the United States has a interest in preventing “jihadists” from gaining footholds in Iraq and Syria, and added that there are “things that need to be done militarily.”
“I don’t rule out anything,” Obama said, “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.”
The president stressed the need for internal political reforms in Iraq which are aimed at creating an atmosphere of inclusion for the country’s Sunni population.
“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 our national security team is looking at all the options,” the president said. “But there this should be also a wake-up call for the Iraqi government.”
“What’s happened over the last couple of days, I think, underscores the importance of the point that I made at my West Point speech,” Obama continued. “The need for us to have a more robust, regional approach to partnering and training partner countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”
He noted that American power could be more smartly applied by training and equipping foreign governments to provide for their own defenses.
“In the short-term, we have to deal with what clearly is an emergency situation in Iraq,” Obama added.