Boots on the ground: Obama sending “small number” of Special Forces troops to assist Iraq; Update: 275 personnel

posted at 5:21 pm on June 16, 2014 by Allahpundit

Via Guy Benson, who reminds me that this isn’t the first time the White House has advertised the smallness — the “unbelievable” smallness — of an intervention to make it easier to sell to voters.

Supposedly the troops they’re sending are only going to train and advise the Iraqis. What’s the advice, exactly? “Don’t run away“?

It’s not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq. It’s also unknown whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation’s north, where the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has overrun several cities in the worst threat to the Shiite-led government since U.S. troops left in 2011…

The mission almost certainly would be small: one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers. It also could be authorized only as an advising and training mission — meaning the soldiers would work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but not officially be considered as combat troops.

The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador and would not be authorized to engage in combat, another U.S. official said. Their mission is “non-operational training” of both regular and counter terrorism units, which the military has interpreted to mean training on military bases, not in the field, the official said.

That’s the ostensible purpose of the mission. Now, what’s the real purpose? A hundred Special Forces troops aren’t going to be a gamechanger in an advisory role, especially with Baghdad already being threatened by ISIS. If Obama’s going to risk a second Mogadishu by putting them in harm’s way, knowing how little appetite America has for more U.S. casualties in Iraq, he’s got a good reason. One possibility: These guys are supposed to liaise somehow with anti-jihadi Sunni elements in areas controlled (or soon to be controlled) by ISIS, in hopes of kickstarting a new “Awakening” and getting American arms flowing to the resistance. Says the Daily Beast, “some of the people fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are former U.S. allies who could be turned against the hard-core fanatics—if they can be identified.” Another possibility is to pave the way for airstrikes. Hitting ISIS from the air is harder than some people think, not just because things are so fluid on the ground but because the Shiite government is an even less reliable partner right now than it used to be:

Ideally, you’d want to base your aircraft as close to your targets as possible, to maximize the number of sorties each plane could fly, instead of spending hours en route to the targets. The U.S. may press Maliki for permission to base U.S. aircraft inside Iraq, if the White House agrees that doesn’t violate President Obama’s bar on putting combat troops inside the country. They also could be based in the Kurdish north of the country, or in neighboring nations.

But missiles without good intelligence to guide them to the right targets are simply indiscriminate IEDs that could kill friendly forces, or even civilians. That’s why some military experts argue there need to be U.S., or at least allied, spotters on the ground—no one is willing to trust targets selected by Maliki’s military—to ensure destruction happens in the right place. “You could put [U.S.] Special Forces on the ground with the Iraqis to advise them and get frontline intelligence and to control air strikes,” says Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general who served as chief of U.S. Central Command. But that, too, could run afoul of Obama’s bar on U.S. troops on the ground inside Iraq.

If you want trustworthy intelligence inside Iraq, your only option is American troops. The Special Forces team is probably there mainly for surveillance, to pick up tips on ISIS movements and relay them to American air assets. And of course there’s a third possibility in honor of the McCain/Graham spat, that U.S. troops are on the ground to coordinate with Iranian military elements that are already inside the country and, maybe, to provide a U.S. counterweight to Iran in influencing Maliki’s maneuvering. And if worse comes to worst and ISIS ends up overrunning Baghdad anyway, hey — you’ll have 100 of the best troops in the world right there to help get everyone out of the embassy before the barbarians run wild and start chopping off heads.

Update: For what it’s worth.


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It’s a quagmire!

Flange on June 16, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Oh look, a neocon advocating another war!
 
everdiso on April 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM

rogerb on June 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

So, the Iranians must love that we support them now in their holy war against the Sunnis. Good thing we are spending our blood and treasury.

Oil Can on June 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

US and Iran special forces engage eachother, bet on it.

MikeInBA on June 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Neither Iraq not ISIS has attacked the US. Therefore, we should not be sending troops!!

/libs, prior to 2009

Occams Stubble on June 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

I should clarify my last comment: Iran special forces engage US, US told not to engage back.

MikeInBA on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Good morning, Vietnam!

Gearbox on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Vietnam started with “advisors”.

Sven on June 16, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Oh, so we give up everything we gained in Iraq since 2002, just piss it away.

THEN after the enemy has retaken virtually the entire country, THEN you go back to the old DimocRat playbook, dating back to the start of Vietfrackingnam…you send in a small number of special forces “advisors”.

You all do realize that’s exactly how the Vietnam “war” started right?

Meople on June 16, 2014 at 5:27 PM

A small number? So, Obama is trying to get Special forces personal killed now? No wonder he thinks the IRS doesn’t have a smidgen of corruption, compared to him, they literally don’t.

oscarwilde on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

https://twitter.com/AP

The Associated Press @AP · 9h

US embassy in Baghdad sends staff out of town as Iraq capital threatened by advance of al-Qaida-inspired insurgency: http://apne.ws/1jtso4F

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Spotters and lasers for JDAMs.

BKeyser on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Obama sending “small number” of Special Forces troops to assist Iraq

Hmmm, maybe just enough to be captured and held as trade for those remaining in GITMO yearning to be free.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

If Obama’s going to risk a second Mogadishu by putting them in harm’s way, knowing how little appetite America has for more U.S. casualties in Iraq, he’s got a good reason.

Perhaps, another Bergdahl-type swap.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Spotters and lasers for JDAMs.

BKeyser on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

The only hope.

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Considering,….Sweet Boinking Bippy,..WTF,..Benghazi Redo Part Deux:

https://twitter.com/AP

https://twitter.com/AP_Politics

AP Politics @AP_Politics · 1h

White House considering special forces contingent to help Iraqi government: http://apne.ws/1iC648X
==================================

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/obama-considers-special-forces-help-iraq

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Hmmm, maybe just enough to be captured and held as trade for those remaining in GITMO yearning to be free.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

With this bunch in the White House, I wouldn’t be surprised for a SECOND if that’s what the anti-American, Jihadists like VJAR have schemed up.

Meople on June 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM

this isn’t the first time the White House has advertised the smallness — the “unbelievable” smallness — of an intervention to make it easier to sell

And remember Libya? It started with Obama saying that it would last “days, not weeks.” After 6 months of around the clocking bombing the kinetic military action was still going on.

anotherJoe on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

I’ll ask again.

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

lol advisors.

It’s pretty obvious that these guys are going to be working hard to get intelligence, liaise between the assorted blue forces, and spot for the airstrikes. This is NOT a training deployment no matter what they say.

lexhamfox on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

AP Politics @AP_Politics · 4h

UN relocates 58 international staff from Baghdad because of security concerns and may move more. http://apne.ws/1iBLoxZ

https://twitter.com/AP_Politics

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

State Dept Ignored Warnings That Iran Was Training, Funding Iraqi Terror Groups To Destabilize Country

State Department counterterrorism officials warned in late April that Iran had “trained, funded, and provided guidance” to ethnic Iraqi terror groups bent on destabilizing the country.

The April warning appears to directly contradict and undermine comments last week by a State Department spokeswoman claiming that the United States and Iran have a “shared interest.”

As Iraqi militants continue to wage attacks and seize territory, the State Department has signaled that it is willing to work with neighboring Iran to stabilize the country. They have even raised the idea of discussing Iraq on the sidelines of the ongoing nuclear discussions taking place in Vienna.

However, the recent outreach to Iran runs counter to the State Department’s own Country Report on Terrorism issued just six weeks ago.

That report warned that Iran is building a terror network across the globe and that it was specifically seeking to undermine U.S. goals in Iraq by fostering terror groups on both sides of the ethnic Arab divide in Iraq.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Good morning, Vietnam!

Gearbox on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Its sequal: “Wassup Iraq!”

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador and would not be authorized to engage in combat

That’s a plan that will fall apart less than 60 seconds after setting foot in Baghdad. Of course there will be combat and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

HotAirian on June 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I’ll ask again.

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

In Texas…living as a private citizen.

As if Obama would listen to anything he had to say.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

AP Politics @AP_Politics · 1h

White House considering special forces contingent to help Iraqi government: http://apne.ws/1iC648X

https://twitter.com/AP_Politics

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

lol advisors.

It’s pretty obvious that these guys are going to be working hard to get intelligence, liaise between the assorted blue forces, and spot for the airstrikes. This is NOT a training deployment no matter what they say.

lexhamfox on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Neither were the “advisors” they sent to Vietnam. That wasn’t training either.

Meople on June 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

It’s a Peace Prize…

d1carter on June 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

What I’d really like to hear from the President is a well thought out, well planned American policy toward Iraq – short and long term – explaining what the American interests are in that policy, how those polices jibe with our country’s Constitution, and how he plans to achieve those policies both strategically and logistically.

Also, will he be getting a Congressional resolution on the use of force in Iraq? Seems to me, now that we’ve pulled out and the situation on the ground is grossly different than when we pulled out, our involvement in military action in Iraq is not a continuation of our previous involvement, and thus cannot be justified on those grounds.

Barak’s war.

Lance Corvette on June 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

I’ll ask again.

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

In Texas…living as a private citizen.

As if Obama would listen to anything he had to say.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

BINGO!

sandee on June 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM

They better engage the enemy if they start shooting at them

cmsinaz on June 16, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Exactly right, RWM.

Brat on June 16, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Wonder if they are going to try and recover/destroy some of the weapons we left for the iraqis

offroadaz on June 16, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Actually proud of Obama for the first time in a very long time. Iraq’s problem are its own. Leave us out.

libfreeordie on June 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Chuck Schick on June 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Spotters and lasers for JDAMs.

BKeyser on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

BKeyser: Amens on dats,..and Expedite!:)

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Wonder if they are going to try and recover/destroy some of the weapons we left for the iraqis

offroadaz on June 16, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Maybe while they’re over there they can go to Syria and recover all the arms we sent via Libya…

sandee on June 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Killing Fields part deux.

docflash on June 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Keep your eye on the size of the commitment. It may be eensy beensy now but it could easily morph into teeny tiny or even dinky winky. These things get out of control.

Mason on June 16, 2014 at 5:44 PM

” A source familiar with the process told The Huffington Post at the time that the president was willing to leave as few as 3,000 troops in Iraq, but that some in his administration feared such a small number of soldiers would be ill-equipped to handle the missions they were assigned.”
Posted on 10-21-2011
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/obama-iraq-troop-withdrawal_n_1024108.html

So before the mess hit the fan 3,000 wasn’t enough….now eh just a few special ops will be just fine…?
This is what happens when you confuse charisma with wisdom.

Von Kleist on June 16, 2014 at 5:46 PM

AND, HEY those 450 nifty Stinger missiles Barry and friends gave to Al Qaeda in Libya sure will be HANDY when they use them shoot down our drones and strike aircraft! Won’t they, Barry!

Meople on June 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I think he retired after two terms. Pretty sure he doesn’t want a third term.

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Good morning HA.
What will obama pivot to today?

cmsinaz on June 16, 2014 at 6:04 AM

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Why do I have this suspicion that this is a throwaway group of soldiers that Obama is sending so that he can claim to be doing something, while in reality doing nothing?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Where do you want him to be and what do you want him to do?

albill on June 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Pathetic. Time to take the kid gloves off and annihilate these islamo-nazi savages.

jawkneemusic on June 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

New troll?

The current trolls are really lame.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:50 PM

The mission almost certainly would be small: one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers.

Go big or stay home. Political Symbolic gestures are neither required nor desired in this crisis.

Johnnyreb on June 16, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Some of the worst decisions are made at the nineteenth hole…

d1carter on June 16, 2014 at 5:52 PM

It’s always good to let the enemy know when we’re coming.

If I were those Special Forces guys, I would watch my back.

PattyJ on June 16, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Lord, I hope those guys know they’re on their own if the shiite hits the fan. Any other President would go thru H3ll to get them back, but this guy golfs.

And the bad guys know it.

tree hugging sister on June 16, 2014 at 5:53 PM

I think special forces would be going in there to “paint” targets for potential drone strikes or other air strikes.

We should enable these two sides to fight each other. Drop some Taliban in there to fight with the ISIS Sunnis. The Taliban would get along with them great. And drop Valerie Jarrett in there to lead the Iranians.

TarheelBen on June 16, 2014 at 5:53 PM

King Putt providing further proof that we only have “a small talent for war”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Small_Talent_for_War

dentarthurdent on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

https://twitter.com/markknoller

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 9h

Kirby says the US vessels provide the commander-in-chief “additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq.”

Replied to 0 times

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 9h

The Mesa Verde joins other US warships dispatched to the Persian Gulf including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Replied to 0 times

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 9h

In statement, @PentagonPresSec says the Mesa Verde carries a complement of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. 550 Marines reported aboard too.

Replied to 0 times

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 9h

Pentagon confirms the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde arrived in the Arabian Gulf today. http://www.mesa-verde.navy.mil/

Welcome to the USS MESA VERDE (LPD 19)

http://www.mesa-verde.navy.mil/

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 9h

Soon to be @PressSec @jearnest44 made point of telling press that Pres Obama was updated frequently on developments & US options in Iraq.

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Amens on dats,..and Expedite!:)

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

you do know who made the guidance fin section and test fixtures for those JDAMS…don’t you….
and no that’s not a question….

going2mars on June 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM

… one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers.

It’s the Mother Of All Surges!

We really are on our way to having an Army Of One. Literally.

Toocon on June 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM

The Mesa Verde joins other US warships dispatched to the Persian Gulf including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

That must pi$$ off the Libs too end. LOL.

Johnnyreb on June 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM

The mission almost certainly would be small: one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers.

Well, there was a much larger American presence than advertised when the Ethiopians threw out the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, so I wouldn’t necessarily take this as gospel.

A Chair of Some Kind on June 16, 2014 at 5:56 PM

https://twitter.com/AP_Politics

AP Politics @AP_Politics · 7h

Pentagon orders amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde to Persian Gulf as Iraq worries grow. http://apne.ws/1i0Xo0O

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Oh, so we give up everything we gained in Iraq since 2002, just piss it away.

THEN after the enemy has retaken virtually the entire country, THEN you go back to the old DimocRat playbook, dating back to the start of Vietfrackingnam…you send in a small number of special forces “advisors”.

You all do realize that’s exactly how the Vietnam “war” started right?

Meople on June 16, 2014 at 5:27 PM

This.

And on top of that, the procrastinator-in-Chief waited till it was an absolute emergency, so we don’t get a congressional vote either.

Deafdog on June 16, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Has anyone noticed that Obama gave Iraq to Al Qaeda yet?

faraway on June 16, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Soon to be @PressSec @jearnest44 made point of telling press that Pres Obama was updated frequently on developments & US options in Iraq.

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Between holes?

sandee on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Hmmm…. where have we seen this before?

1961 President Kennedy sends 100 Special Forces troops to South Vietnam
1961 A U.S. aircraft carrier arrives in Saigon and Vice President Johnson visits Saigon

http://mahargpress.com/wounded/additional-material/timeline-of-vietnamconflict/

dentarthurdent on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Sioux Falls, SD, picked up 0.85 inches of rain in 5 min, rate of 10.2 inches per hour- @TWCBreaking

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

He stationed more Black Panthers at polling places during US elections.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Soon to be @PressSec @jearnest44 made point of telling press that Pres Obama was updated frequently on developments & US options in Iraq.

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Between holes?

sandee on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Well I certainly hope they didn’t talk during his back swing…..

dentarthurdent on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

One possibility: These guys are supposed to liaise somehow with anti-jihadi Sunni elements in areas controlled (or soon to be controlled) by ISIS, in hopes of kickstarting a new “Awakening” and getting American arms flowing to the resistance.

That’s probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

forest on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Are we sure he’s not sending them to help the ISIS?

After all, he helped Muslim radicals take Libya and wants to help them in Syria. Let’s not forget how much he liked the Muslim Brotherhood taking Egypt.

darwin on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

My guess: These guys are tasked with locating and shredding anything embarrassing to Obama.

faraway on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Very good davidk
:)

cmsinaz on June 16, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Some 1.5 million volunteer to fight ISIL terrorists

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c06_1402700145

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:08 PM

So basically we are sending them there without the tools and manpower to make a difference but with the ability to get killed by crazy people.

Alrighty then

gophergirl on June 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM

In Texas…living as a private citizen.

As if Obama would listen to anything he had to say.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

True, but the Left is dumping this back on Bush when the bulk of the issue is clearly Obama’s fault. I would like to see George W. Bush, for once in his life, defend himself and the conservatives that backed his decisions. If he had bothered to fight back, then we might not be in this situation today.

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM

New troll?

The current trolls are really lame.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Not really. No. My apologies.

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Well this won’t turn out well. I am from the school of thought that when ground troops are introduced it should be done in overwhelming fashion, or you don’t do it all.

Now granted special forces are in a different category. I understand the usefulness, as a rescue or hit squad, and of helping another country’s or faction’s military, but you have to be absolutely sure the side your helping is trustworthy, is clearly defined, and won’t shoot you in the back.

I do not think Iraq is the best place to be using special forces in this kind of role. You have Sunni Jihadist in front of you and Iranians behind you, and a bunch of people running around who you can’t tell which side they belong to…you just can’t tell by looking at an Iraqi who is Shia and who is Sunni, if they are on Jihad, etc. A small force like this, no matter how trained, is going to be in the fight of their lives if things go bad, and I am not sure this administration is competent enough to extract them if that happens.

William Eaton on June 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Some 1.5 million volunteer to fight ISIL terrorists

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c06_1402700145

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:08 PM

I would take that figure with a HUGE grain of salt.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Dial “M” for mur-boom: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=88e_1402951250

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM

So basically we are sending them there without the tools and manpower to make a difference but with the ability to get killed by crazy people.

Alrighty then

gophergirl on June 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Isn’t that basically what Hillary did to Chris Stevens?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM

I’ll ask again.

Where is George W. Bush?

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

joekenha on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

It is traditional for previous presidents to not comment on their successor(s). President Bush is not a Carter who violated that tradition repeatedly and disgustingly. President Bush stated he is not going to criticize his successor. That is his comment. Try to understand what that means in terms of metacommunication. That is an appropriate statement by him.

rlwo2008 on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Some 1.5 million volunteer to fight ISIL terrorists

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c06_1402700145

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:08 PM

I would take that figure with a HUGE grain of salt.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM

https://twitter.com/AliAjeena/status/478330423060082689/photo/1

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Todays State Briefing:

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 16, 2014
*************

IRAQ

Embassy Status / Personnel Relocations / Consular Services
U.S. Open to Consultations with Iran / P5+1 Talks Separate
Addressing the Threat of Terrorism
U.S. Assistance
Steps Forward / Call for National Unity
Shared Concern about Security Challenges and Instability
Role of Iran
Encouraging Nonsectarian Governance
Threat of ISIL
Concerns about Iran
Ongoing Elections Process
*****************************

TRANSCRIPT:

1:16 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Monday.

QUESTION: That wasn’t quite two minutes.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, it wasn’t quite two minutes? I was eager to see all of you, so I jumped the gun.
****************************

QUESTION: Right. With that, let’s start with Iraq. One, I’m wondering if you can give us any updates as it relates to the Embassy and staffing and security and that kind of thing. And then, two, I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit or elaborate a little bit on the Secretary’s comments in this morning in this interview with Yahoo about cooperation with Iran, discussion with Iran, that kind of thing.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, on the first question, Matt, we announced yesterday through a statement as well as a Travel Warning that followed up that we would be relocating some of our personnel from Baghdad. I don’t have any updates beyond what we offered yesterday to add at this point. I know some people have asked how this would impact specific services. I can address that if that’s useful.

The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is particularly limited given the security environment. As is always the case, U.S. citizens who have emergency situations, obviously we do everything we can to address those. Due to the relocation of some of the staff, the Embassy in Baghdad has temporarily suspended routine nonimmigrant visa services. The Embassy is also temporarily restricting immigrant visa services. Immigrant visa applications with existing appointments in June and July have been notified by email of any changes in the appointments schedule. Consular services, including American citizen services, could experience delays. And U.S. citizens, of course, in need of services in Erbil must make an appointment with the consulate online.

So those are just some updates. I will update you that Ambassador Beecroft is back on the ground in Iraq and is of course leading our team there. We’ve been engaged over the course of the last several days and certainly beyond that – longer than that – a great deal of diplomatic engagement. Deputy Assistant Secretary – excuse me – McGurk remains on the ground as well, and they’ve had a series of meetings and will continue to over the coming days.

QUESTION: Is it still correct per the statement from yesterday that the substantial – I believe it was substantial majority of Embassy staffers in Baghdad are remaining at the Embassy?

MS. PSAKI: That remains – that is correct.

QUESTION: It’s not the case that a substantial number are remaining in Iraq? In other words, the Embassy – the staff at the Embassy itself might be significantly reduced, but not all of those people are leaving the country? Some of them are going to Erbil and Basra?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. I’m not sure if I’m answering all of your questions.

QUESTION: Okay. So I’m not sure –

MS. PSAKI: Okay. One at a time, Matt.

QUESTION: I’m trying to make sure – you’re saying that the staffing at the Embassy in Baghdad itself is remaining or that the substantial majority –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — is staying in Baghdad?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: At the Embassy?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: So it doesn’t mean that the substantial majority is staying in Iraq writ large, meaning it could be Erbil and Basra where they all are, you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: No, but staff has been –

QUESTION: And –

MS. PSAKI: Some staff have been relocated. There have been some additional staff that have been added to help boost up security. So those are the different pieces that –

QUESTION: Now does that – the additional staff you’re talking about, is that what the Pentagon was talking about yesterday, or is this State Department –

MS. PSAKI: Yes. But –

QUESTION: Okay. So the staff then is not DS, it’s not State Department staff? The additional staff for security you’re talking about are coming from the Pentagon?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my second question on – can you elaborate a little bit more on what the Secretary meant when he said that you all were open to talking with the Iranians?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, as the Secretary said, we’re open to talking to Iran about the situation in Iraq, just as we’re talking to all of Iraq’s neighboring states. We put out a readout yesterday of a range of calls the Secretary made yesterday to a number of countries in the region. I would remind you that we’ve had similar conversations in the past with Iran regarding Afghanistan. These consultations would be along those lines. We’re not talking about coordinating any military action in Iraq with Iran. We would encourage Iran to push the Iraqis to act to address problems in a nonsectarian way. And the purpose here would be, as I guess I have outlined already, to consult on the situation on the ground, to encourage Iran to play a role if possible in encouraging the Iraqis to act in a responsible, nonsectarian way, and encourage the leaders to do that as well.

QUESTION: When you say that we’re not talking about coordinating any military activity, the Secretary – well, I don’t know if he used the word in his answer, but the question that he was asked was “cooperation.” Do you equate cooperation with coordination?

MS. PSAKI: I would – to be –

QUESTION: Because –

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, the reason I’m asking is that it was pretty quick pushback from the Pentagon on any idea that there would be cooperation. But as far as I know, they didn’t use the word “cooperation.” They talked about coordination and consultation. I just want to know: Is there a difference between these things?

Because frankly, at least in the short term, immediate term in terms of ISIL, it would appear as though you and the Iranians have a common interest in stopping them just solely on that one limited thing. And it seems to me that if there was going to be military intervention from both Iran and the United States, in this instance you wouldn’t want them at cross-purposes. So when we talk about coordination and consultation, which is what the Pentagon talked about, I just want to make sure that cooperation – I mean that – do you mean – does that – does cooperation mean coordination and consultation, or is it possible that there could be some cooperation?

MS. PSAKI: It means both.

QUESTION: Both, okay.

MS. PSAKI: It means both. And I would just confirm for you that the Secretary did not say military coordination or cooperation. He did say – and I have the transcript in front of me here somewhere – that if there was a constructive – something constructive that could be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform, that that would be what we would discuss.

QUESTION: Right. But the question was cooperation and he answered it in the way you just did, which I realize he didn’t use the actual word, but I mean –

MS. PSAKI: He actually said in response to that question, “I think we need to go step by step and see what in fact might be a reality.” So –

QUESTION: Right. Suggesting that it was a possibility. But anyway, in terms of the openness to talks, where, when, what might – what would they be about if you’re not going to cooperate, coordinate, or consult?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would note, as I think was noted in a briefing this morning, that of course Deputy Secretary Burns and Under Secretary Sherman are on the ground in Vienna today. I believe they just concluded the trilateral meeting. I don’t have any update from the ground at this point in terms of whether Iran was a topic around that. We certainly expected, given the interest of all the parties that –

QUESTION: Whether Iraq? Whether Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry, Iraq. Iraq was. That it may be. But again, the role that a conversation would play would be to discuss the political component here and our interest in encouraging the Iraqi government to, the Iraqi leaders to act in a responsible, nonsectarian way. And certainly a discussion of that is something that we would be open to.

QUESTION: What on Earth makes you – well, a couple of things. One, just a simple factual question. You say you don’t have any updates on whether Iraq came up in the three-way meeting. Has the United States had any bilateral conversation with the Iranians in Vienna so far today?

MS. PSAKI: I believe from the update I had from the ground, Arshad, that it was a trilateral meeting that had taken place.

QUESTION: Right, but that’s not my question. My question is: Has there been a bilat between –

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of from the update I received on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay, okay. So then –

MS. PSAKI: And obviously things are very fluid there. That I can just –

QUESTION: Right. So it might have changed.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Then second, what makes you think that the Iranians, who for many years by your or your predecessors’ accounts supplied Iraqi insurgents with IEDs to attack U.S. soldiers and by many accounts also sought to foment sectarian warfare in Iraq – what makes you think the Iranians are now going to be likely to urge Maliki to be – to act in a less sectarian manner?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Arshad, we can’t predict, of course, what they may or may not do. But what I was conveying is what the role or what message we would be sending in any discussion that we had with them.

QUESTION: And why have you been so insistent that you don’t want to mix the nuclear file with any talks with Iran about Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly there are a lot of issues to be discussed on – in the nuclear file, and we think it’s most productive to keep those in that discussion. But certainly on the margins and separate from those negotiations we could discuss the issues in Iraq.

QUESTION: But what makes you think the Iranians wouldn’t take any conversation on Iraq, where you’re asking them to do things, and turn it around and say well yeah sure we’ll maybe do that. But can you help us a little bit in the nuclear conversation, then maybe let us have a few more centrifuges.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think that is a point on the table for us.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to try to press every possible advantage that they have in the nuclear negotiations if you’re asking for their help on other stuff, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s certainly one of the reasons to keep all of these conversations separate. And they have a shared interest with the United States in a stable Iraq, and they have a shared concern about the threats from ISIL.

QUESTION: Jen, now you’re saying there’s been no direct request or direct outreach to Iran to intervene in this situation in Iraq. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: From the –

QUESTION: There has been no American outreach –

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think –

QUESTION: — or direct call on Iran to intervene, let’s say, to stem the –

MS. PSAKI: I think what I was laying out is what our message would be to the Iranians.

QUESTION: Right, because –

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other update to provide you on that.

QUESTION: — because the chair of the – Iran’s national security council, Ali Shamkhani, basically said we will not cooperate with the Americans. He’s basically accusing you of – or accusing the Americans and their allies of arming, supplying, financing the ISIS. So do you have any comment –

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen those comments. It’s hard to see how they’re remotely credible. But again, Said, I would – I’ll take a look at those. I think more frequently we’ve seen a concern expressed about the threat that ISIL is posing to the region.

QUESTION: Okay. Just a couple more from me. Now, Qasem Suleimani is alleged to be the head of the Al-Quds Brigade, he’s alleged to lead a contingent – a very powerful contingent that is going after ISIS. Do you know anything about that in Baghdad? Do you know anything about –

MS. PSAKI: I have no confirmation. I know there have been a range of reports. I have no confirmation about whether or not there is a presence there – a new presence.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you imagine a situation where, let’s say, Al-Quds Brigade – the Iranian special force – is going after the ISIS members while the United States is giving them air cover?

MS. PSAKI: I am not going to speculate. I think I’ve made very clear that we’re not talking about military coordination or cooperation here.

QUESTION: And I have a last question on the presence of the agencies like USAID. Did they leave or are they still staying in Iraq? Are they part of the embassy compound or (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: As you know, our embassies around the world have representatives from a range of agencies. I don’t have a break down and I don’t think we’ll be offering one in terms of –

QUESTION: That’s a big presence, though.

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, as is there’s a big presence from a range of agencies there.

QUESTION: Just to –

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just to absolutely clarify, there are no – you do not have a date or any timing for when this – these talks with Iran could take place or where they might take place?

MS. PSAKI: I think clearly, because Deputy Secretary Burns and Under Secretary Sherman are on the ground – and this we expect to be a topic – that is there is a possibility and a – there, but I don’t have any update there, and beyond that I’m not going to make predictions of how else they could take place.

QUESTION: So a possibility of talks – bilateral talks between U.S. and Iran on Iraq in Vienna in the next couple days?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re open to that, but I’m not going to make a prediction about whether or not that will happen, and I haven’t received an update from the ground at this point.

QUESTION: Going back to the embassy for a second.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Would you call this an evacuation?

MS. PSAKI: No, we would not.

QUESTION: Is it just a chance to have some members of the embassy work remotely?

MS. PSAKI: It is a situation, Lucas, where we evaluate the security and – on the ground. And at our posts and embassies around the world we made a decision that the right step here was to relocate some of our staff to other parts of Iraq and to a supporting neighboring country and so that’s the step we took and that’s why we took it.

QUESTION: And –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: — hold on. Just to follow up –

MS. PSAKI: But let me reiterate one thing: Our embassy staff and our embassy is open and operating. Our diplomatic team at the highest levels is engaged closely with the Iraqis and that will continue.

QUESTION: But it just has a fifth of the amount of personnel as it did before.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specific numbers, but again, a range of these employees are temporarily relocating – temporarily – to some other areas in Iraq, and again a close neighboring country.

QUESTION: And is it fair to put the rapid advance of ISIS toward Baghdad into a larger context where Islamist extremists are demonstrating more aggressiveness, they’re emboldened, say, in Karachi and Nigeria?

MS. PSAKI: Is it fair to put it in a larger context?

QUESTION: That terrorism is on the rise, and these terrorists are on the march.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I wouldn’t put it in those terms, no surprise to you, but I would point you to President Obama’s speech just a couple of weeks ago where we – he rolled out a plan for a $5 billion counterterrorism fund. Clearly, we’re taking steps to address the threat where we see the threat facing us, and that’s no different here as it is in some of the other countries that you’ve mentioned.

Okay.

QUESTION: Isn’t – it’s not just the GOP critics to the Obama Administration that say that America’s terrorist enemies in various locales are on the march. After all, Senator Feinstein stated last month, quote, “Terror is not down in the world. It is up, both deaths, injuries, in many, many different places. Al-Qaida has metastasized.” Isn’t that the truth?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, we put out an annual report where we note where we have concerns, and we’ve been very clear that we’ve had concerns about the growth of some of these groups, whether it’s ISIL and our concerns about that or whether it’s al-Shabaab or other groups in Africa. So I don’t think we’ve made any secret about those concerns, and the questions is: What are we doing about it? And this counterterrorism fund is obviously one of the proposals in addressing how we can best take on the threat as part of our effort here.

QUESTION: But is a growth of some of the groups or all of these groups?

MS. PSAKI: I’d point you, Lucas — and maybe tomorrow I’ll bring you a copy of our annual – I actually brought you one last week, and you weren’t here. So that’s too bad.

Go ahead, Catherine.

QUESTION: Jen, on the numbers, do you have any estimates or a range? Even the Pentagon was able to give us that type of range.

MS. PSAKI: We don’t provide numbers here of our personnel as a matter of policy, so I’m not going to have any update for all of you on that front.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Do you have more on Iraq?

Jo, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I ask – I wonder if the – the Secretary, this morning, talked about mass murders happening in Iraq, and I wondered if that was a reference to the videos that’s been released over the weekend of what’s claimed to be 1,700 Shiite soldiers having been assassinated or killed by the – by ISIL on the battlefield. Have you any confirmation independently that this is – these videos were true? Could you just speak and give us some reactions on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new confirmation. I think we put out a statement yesterday about some of these reports, and certainly the Secretary was referring to these reports that we’re seeing from the ground and our concerns about them.

QUESTION: Jen –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. On Iraq?

QUESTION: Yeah, are you providing more military aids to the government in Iraq at this time or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re familiar with our increased assistance over the course of the last several months. In terms of anything new beyond that, the President hasn’t yet made a decision. And the national security team, including the Secretary, have provided him with a range of options, which he’s currently reviewing. So I don’t have any update on that front.

QUESTION: And politically, what are you trying to do with the Prime Minister Maliki? How are you trying to help him in this crisis?

MS. PSAKI: Well, even while the President is considering a range of options that include possible military action, our view is that this is not, primarily, a military challenge. There are several steps, I should say, that we believe the Iraqi leaders should take in conjunction with – and those include sincere effort by Iraqi leaders to govern in a nonsectarian manner, promote stability and unity among Iraq’s diverse population, build and invest in the capacity of Iraq security forces, and address the legitimate grievances of Iraq’s Sunni, Kurd, and Shia communities. So there are several steps, and I would note many we’ve been calling for for some time, and we’ve been pressing for for some time that we feel are pivotal to long-term success here.

QUESTION: Have you seen even a single example of Prime Minister Maliki taking any steps in line with that since – I mean the Secretary said this publicly on Friday –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — so did the President.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you seen any evidence of that so far?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we saw a little bit last week, Arshad, of calls for national unity from both Prime Minister Maliki and a range of other leaders. Clearly we’re stating this because we think there’s more that needs to be done, including the steps that I outlined.

QUESTION: But those steps are very general, and as I recall, there were some specific things that were mentioned in the Secretary’s phone call with Foreign Minister Zebari. Are you walking back –

MS. PSAKI: No. They fall into those –

QUESTION: — from those, recognizing the election results? I mean, there were very specific – three or four –

MS. PSAKI: You’re correct. I would –

QUESTION: — very specific things.

MS. PSAKI: You’re correct. We stand by those. I think they all fall into a number of those categories.

QUESTION: Do you have that with you?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have it right in front of me –

QUESTION: All right. Well, it was something like this –

MS. PSAKI: — but that continues to be the case.

QUESTION: — recognize elections, move within the constitutional timeframe to establish a new government and one or two other things. Those are still operative?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: It’s not just this kind of –

MS. PSAKI: And we were encouraged to see on a part of one of those steps that the Iraqi supreme court today certified the results of the April election. Obviously there’s more that needs to be done. I was giving broad categories. The specific steps remain.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. And then based on his conversations with the various foreign ministers that he had yesterday, do you, does the Secretary, does the Administration more broadly, have confidence that the Sunni neighbors are onboard with this goal that you have set out in these broad objectives?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to lay out private conversations. I know they’ll all speak for themselves about where their views are. I think there is a shared concern about the security challenges on the ground in Iraq and the instability that that could cause. That was certainly a part of the discussion. But beyond that, I don’t have anything else to read out for all of you.

QUESTION: Do you still have concerns that money, if not the governments themselves of those countries but money from those countries, is funding ISIL?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re familiar with the concerns we’ve had in the past about Syria. Those haven’t changed. If there was evidence of that, that would be concerning. I’m not aware of specifics on that at this point.

QUESTION: All right. But money and assistance going to ISIL in Syria crosses the border relatively easily –

MS. PSAKI: You’re correct.

QUESTION: — right? So –

MS. PSAKI: And that is an issue that we have consistently raised and we’ve seen some effort to make progress. But again, I don’t want to speak on a hypothetical because I haven’t seen incidents of that in this particular case.

QUESTION: Okay. But specifically raised with those Arab states that he spoke to yesterday? Or at least –

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything further to read out from the calls, but that has been our – has been a concern we’ve raised in the past.

QUESTION: One more on this –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Maliki has said today that Arab states stand behind what’s going on in Iraq these days. Do you think the Secretary – when the Secretary called the foreign ministers yesterday, one of these states are supporting ISIL? Or why did he call these foreign ministers, not others?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he made a range of calls yesterday, he’ll make a range of calls today, and that will continue. So those were just the calls that he made yesterday. It wasn’t meant to be a definitive list of the only people he has or will speak to.

QUESTION: And are you convinced that one of the Arab states or more are supporting what’s going on in Iraq now?

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re familiar with concerns we’ve expressed in the past about this. If there was evidence of that, that would certainly be a concern, but I have nothing new to add at this point.

QUESTION: You know the Saudis just issued a statement calling on you basically not to intervene. I mean, that there should be no foreign intervention in Iraq whatsoever, meaning in this case, the Americans. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll take a look at that, Said. I hadn’t seen their statement.

QUESTION: Iraq.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Do you oppose Iran sending forces, troops to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: I think our – the role that we – the message we would convey, if we would convey or I’ll convey now, is that there’s a role to play in reducing the sectarian nature of how Iraq is being governed, that that’s a role that they could play. We don’t feel it’s useful for the Iraqis to rely on the capacity of Iran’s security forces and don’t feel – and that’s a message we would convey to the Iraqis as well.

QUESTION: To the Iranians.

QUESTION: To the Iranians?

MS. PSAKI: We would convey it as well to the Iraqis that they shouldn’t – yes, to both sides is what I’m trying to say.

QUESTION: Can you repeat it?

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: Can you repeat it?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. (Laughter.) Sure, I can. That our view is that Iraq will only be successful if they invest in their own political process to be more inclusive, to not govern in a sectarian manner, and that that’s the way to overcome this threat, not by allowing Iran’s security forces to be a part of this effort.

QUESTION: But Jen, given the history of Iran in Iraq since 2003, and your own – the U.S.’s own history with Iran since the revolution of ’79, I mean, is it realistic or is it just completely – I mean, is it realistic or even optimistic, too hopeful, to expect that Iran will act in a way that will help – that Iran will act in a way that will help Iran – Iraq, sorry – (laughter) – that Iran will act in a way –

MS. PSAKI: We need note cards.

QUESTION: — that will help Iraq become less sectarian?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, again, I can’t predict what they will or won’t do. We continue to have some areas of significant concern with Iran, as you know. But this is just what message we would be conveying from the United States.

QUESTION: Iraq, one more.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Madam, as Iraq crisis escalates, many nations in the region are already worried, including India, as far as the flow of oil is concerned, including – even in some companies in the U.S. So what is the future of the oil – global oil flow from the region, and what message do you have for those nations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe, Goyal, that the President spoke to this just a couple of days ago on Friday, so I’d point you to his comments. And nothing has changed that I’m aware of since that point in time.

Ali.

QUESTION: But as per the Secretary’s discussion maybe in London when he was there, was this under discussion as far as oil flow?

MS. PSAKI: He discussed the issue of our concern about Iraq with a range of – with Foreign Secretary Hague and other officials there, but it was really focused on the security situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Ali.

QUESTION: During the interview today, Secretary Kerry indicated that he would leave it up to the Iraqi people to decide whether or not they believe that Prime Minister Maliki should resign. So I’m just wondering, does he leave that decision squarely in the hands of the Iraqi people, and at what point in the shift in the tide of public opinion would he get behind any decision by the Iraqi public to call for Maliki’s resignation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he leaves it in the hands of the Iraqi people, so we’ll see what happens.

QUESTION: One more on Iran. Are you concerned that Iran will use the situation to intervene in Iraq to send troops, or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I tried to address that, perhaps in a confusing verbal gymnastics way, in that we believe the focus should be on encouraging Iraqi leaders to govern in a non-sectarian way. That would be the focus of our discussion. And again, our discussion wouldn’t be about cooperating or coordinating on military roles.

QUESTION: Why not call clearly for – on the Iraqis to form some sort of a national salvation government that would represent everybody, at least for a transitional period? (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to encourage Iraqi leaders to do more to be more inclusive and unified, and that’s been consistently part of our message to them.

QUESTION: Can I change topic?

QUESTION: Well, wait –

MS. PSAKI: Iraq?

QUESTION: — I just want to ask you one thing about this. Governing in a nonsectarian way – how would you categorize the governments of Lebanon and Bosnia, say?

MS. PSAKI: Well look, Matt, I think there’s no question what has caused some of the challenges here. Obviously, Syria’s been an enormous factor, but the fact is we believe Prime Minister Maliki and other leaders could’ve done more to be more inclusive with the diverse population that is in Iraq, and that’s the message we’re conveying.

QUESTION: Right. But there are some governments that you support – Lebanon and Bosnia – that are governed in a – that are formed on a sectarian basis. Isn’t that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know you like to make sweeping generalizations –

QUESTION: I don’t think that’s so sweeping.

MS. PSAKI: — about what our views should be, but we approach every country differently, and we’re talking about what is most useful in Iraq.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something? Just to follow up on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, if you were an Iraqi Sunni or an Iraqi Kurd, why would you believe that Maliki might now begin governing in an inclusive and nonsectarian manner? And even if he said he would, why would you trust him, given the history?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they have a shared enemy, and that is ISIL. And clearly that is a threat that is posing a significant challenge to not just the people of Iraq, but to people and countries in the region, and certainly to the national security interests of the United States.

Certainly, to your point, you can’t just say it. You have to follow it with actions. And there have been other steps by other leaders in Iraq who have called for national unity. Obviously, there needs to be actions to follow up those calls.

QUESTION: In the event that Iraq does break up along sectarian or confessional lines, are you prepared to recognize that reality on the ground? I mean, for all intents and purposes the Kurds are functioning as an independent country. The south is also close to Iran and functions that way. And if it happens that the west becomes sort of independent, are you prepared to deal with that reality?

MS. PSAKI: We’re familiar with the range of proposals over time. That’s not our focus. Obviously, we’re working with a sovereign, unified Iraq.

QUESTION: Jen, how can you work with a government in Iran who just a few months ago called you the Great Satan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, I will not mince words here: We have still existing strong concerns about terrorist activity, about our detained American citizens who are there; steps they need to take even as a part of the P5+1 negotiations here. But again, this is a case where we’re open to a discussion, because we’ve done that in the past when it came to Afghanistan. We think there could be – it could be an opportunity. But beyond that it hasn’t changed our concerns about a variety of issues in Iran.

QUESTION: But there were also discussions about Iraq with Iran in the past –

MS. PSAKI: True, there were. Yes.

QUESTION: — in Baghdad. I just wanted to make sure –

MS. PSAKI: Yes, thank you. I –

QUESTION: Can you – just one more on that –

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: — can you – if there were to be – and for all we know, there have been, but – U.S.-Iranian discussions about Iraq –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — is it fair to assume that those would be handled by Deputy Secretary Burns or Under Secretary Sherman, or is it conceivable, possible that they might be handled as they were in the mid-2000’s out of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad when then-Ambassador Ryan Crocker held those negotiations? So is it likely to be done at this very elevated political level that you mention – Sherman and Burns – or is it more likely to – or is it conceivable that it might happen at the ambassadorial level in Baghdad now that you have your ambassador back?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of options. I think the question – and obviously why many people were asking was because we’re obviously in Vienna, our team is in Vienna right now. But again, I’m not going to predict kind of what might – may or may not happen there. I don’t – I haven’t received an update to suggest they have discussed it. And if there are other options and we’re still open to it, there are a range of ways we could do that.

QUESTION: Jen, do you support Prime Minister Maliki to form a new and inclusive government in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, he’s – there’s an entire elections process that takes place in Iraq. That’s ongoing and underway, and it’s up to the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: How concerned is the U.S. about Maliki’s continued viability as prime minister?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I –

QUESTION: To put it more simply: Is the U.S. worried that the central government could fall?

MS. PSAKI: Roz, I think this is a case where we’re working with Prime Minister Maliki, we’re working with a range of officials on the ground from different parties. We believe right now the right step is for unity across those parties at this challenging time to address their shared threat. It’s up to the people of Iraq to determine what the future is for their leadership. And again, this is a case where they have a shared enemy. And that’s what we think the focus should be on, so we’re not going to – go ahead.

QUESTION: After eight years of Prime Minister – of Maliki being prime minister, do you think he’s able to lead Iraq in the future?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve expressed concerns when we’ve had them; the Secretary did this morning about more that could’ve been done. We still think there’s more that can happen, but it’s up to the Iraqi people to choose their leadership.

QUESTION: Quick one?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: There are reports in Iraq on the Iraqi Government suspending Twitter, Facebook, – maybe Instagram, I’m not sure – but all the social media.

MS. PSAKI: We have seen reports that the Government of Iraq has taken steps to block access to a wide range of social media in the country. While we understand Iraqi concerns about the spread of terrorist activity-related messaging on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we’re strongly urging the Iraqi Government to continue to allow Iraqi citizens access to these sites.

Thank you, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:13 p.m.)

DPB # 106

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/06/227650.htm

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

gophergirl on June 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM

I would imagine the special forces will sneak around and be ready to electronically paint targets for future drone strikes. Now – which side would the drone strikes benefit? That issue is up in the air, as far as I’m concerned.

TarheelBen on June 16, 2014 at 6:15 PM

… one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers.

It’s the Mother Of All Surges!

We really are on our way to having an Army Of One. Literally.

Toocon on June 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Future deployment of one Special Forces Soldier, paraphrasing an old Texas Ranger story:

When sent overseas to prevent a toppling of a friendly government, a single Special Forces soldier is greeted upon his arrival by a representative of the government who asked: “Where are the others?”

To that the soldier replies, “Hell! ain’t I enough? There’s only one war!”

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM

https://twitter.com/AliAjeena/status/478330423060082689/photo/1

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Toyota needs to get them some Tundras…or Tacomas, at least.

rlwo2008 on June 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Daily Press Briefing – June 16, 2014

Jun. 16, 2014: U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing by Spokesperson Jen Psaki in Washington, DC.

VIDEO:(57:34)

http://video.state.gov/en/video/3625599878001

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 6:17 PM

https://twitter.com/AliAjeena/status/478330423060082689/photo/1

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Interesting. A lot more than I would have expected. This looks like it is going to get bloody real soon.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

TarheelBen on June 16, 2014 at 6:15 PM

drones have 2 hellfire missiles only..
and you don’t need a laser painted on a target to use them..
not a very big bang…
and you have to fly em home to rearm them..

good if you know which truck the leader is in..
not so good at stopping ground forces…

going2mars on June 16, 2014 at 6:19 PM

BREAKING: Obama sends letter to Congress, advising “up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq.”

Drones need guidance. Too bad those convoys of wild rug-flyers have not been pulverized, yet.

Schadenfreude on June 16, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Soon to be @PressSec @jearnest44 made point of telling press that Pres Obama was updated frequently on developments & US options in Iraq.

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Between holes?

sandee on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

sandee: Exactly,..and,…….—:0

Mark Knoller @markknoller · Jun 14

Back from the fundraiser and commencement, Pres Obama playing a round of golf at the Sunnylands/Annenberg estate in Racho Mirage.

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM

If I were writing a movie script, I would say that Obama sent Special Forces there to kill anyone that knows anything about Obama’s relationship with ISIS. I would have special emphasis on the embassy, and Iraqi officials.

faraway on June 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM

vietnam started with advisors….

dmacleo on June 16, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Vietnam started with “advisors”.

Sven on June 16, 2014 at 5:27 PM

vietnam started with advisors….

dmacleo on June 16, 2014 at 6:24 PM

oops..didn’t see this before, sorry

dmacleo on June 16, 2014 at 6:25 PM

There better be massive air support then.

jake49 on June 16, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Iraq violence
1m
In letter to Congress, President Obama announces deployment of 275 military personnel to protect US Embassy in Baghdad – @WhiteHouse
End of alert

https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM

https://twitter.com/AliAjeena/status/478330423060082689/photo/1

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Toyota needs to get them some Tundras…or Tacomas, at least.

rlwo2008 on June 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Toyota Coaster Bus model : BB23

davidk on June 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM

At 275 all they are is targets.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 16, 2014 at 6:28 PM

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