President Obama Rules Out Combat Forces in Iraq

The president remarks that "short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, will not succeed."
15:31 | 06/13/14

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Transcript for President Obama Rules Out Combat Forces in Iraq
Susan BBC news. Good morning from ABC news headquarters in New York I'm David Muir and become on the air at this hour because the president is expected to make common shortly on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. As you well know in recent days we were reporting here on the group wreaking Havoc throughout Iraq taking over cities. That had once been secured by so many American troops during a nine year military mission over there. Of course now we're seeing Iraqi families caught in the traffic -- stories of civilians killed in the streets. So many Iraqis now trying to escape the brutality of this group at odds with the Iraqi Government. I want -- -- chief foreign correspondent Terry -- joins us from Northern Iraq interior was you in the last 24 hours recording this group. So brutal that even al-Qaeda now disavowing itself from the group. Actually -- -- unprecedented. Event that Al formally cut off. But jihadist group that had swore loyalty. -- and that's because they were held up control they were -- pretty much. Everyone Syria and Iraq other jihadist in a civilian they were too much even for al-Qaeda and strike terror. Into the -- people white ball. Iraq although some like they had actually been greeted. And liberated. Because the government here Iraq has said. So under representative. The interest facilities and other that some people actually welcome this group what they are hateful what -- And Terry as you report and we're looking at the pictures of the highways packed with people you see some of the armed militias in the trucks there of course the president. Expected to come into the picture momentarily he in the First Lady will then board Marine One they are headed to North Dakota today for a Flag Day event. In honor of native American veterans and then off to California the president having met with members of his national security team this morning as part of his normal course. Of meetings in the morning and again presumably talking about a rock. We were told a short time ago he would address the deteriorating situation in Iraq and here's the president. Friday morning. -- but it. -- -- -- Give you a quick update about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday I convened a meeting -- my National Security Council to discuss the situation there and this morning I received an update for my team. Over the last several days we've seen significant gains made by IS IL. Terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria. In the face of a terrorist offensive. Iraqi Security Forces have proven -- able. To defend a number of cities which has allowed the terrorist overrun the part of Iraq's territory. And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people. And given the nature of these terrorists it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well. This threat is not brand new. Over the last year we've been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi Government would increase training. Equipping and intelligence. Now Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities. Of Iraqi Security Forces. We will not be sending US troops back in -- combat in Iraq but I have asked my. National security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support. Iraq security forces and I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead. I do want to be clear though this is not solely or even primarily. A military challenge. Over the past decade American troops. Have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis. An opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately. Iraqis leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences. That. Have long been simmering there and that's created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi Government has wells there security forces. So any action that we may take. -- provide assistance to Iraqi Security Forces has to be joined by. A serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian differences. To promote stability. And account for the legitimate interest of all of Iraq's communities. And -- continued to build the capacity of an effective security force. We can't do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort. Short term military action including any assistance we might provide won't succeed. So this should be a wake up call Iraq's leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions. And compromises. On behalf of the Iraqi People in order bring the country together. In that effort they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. Iraq's neighbors that also have some responsibilities to support this process. Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq and nobody is gonna benefit from Syria -- Iraq descend into chaos. So the United States will do our part. But understand that ultimately it's up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems. Indeed across the region we. Everett doubled our efforts to help build more capable counterterrorism forces of the groups like IS IL. Can't establish safe haven and will continue that through our support of the moderate opposition in Syria. Our support for Iraq and -- security forces and our partnership with other countries across the region. We're also gonna pursue intensive diplomacy. Throughout this period both inside of Iraq and across the region. Because there's never going to be stability in Iraq or the broader region unless there -- political outcomes to allow people to resolve their differences peacefully without resorting to war. Or relying on the united states military. Will be monitoring the situation in Iraq very carefully over the next several days. Our top priority will remain being vigilant against any threats to our personnel serving overseas. We will consult closely with congress as we make determinations. About appropriate action and more continue to keep the American people fully informed. As we make decisions about the -- -- Our ultimate -- question. -- yeah. Like he didn't call. I think that we should. -- look at the situation carefully we have an interest in making sure that. A group like IS IL which is of a vicious organization and has. Been to able to take advantage of the chaos in Syria but they don't get a broader foothold. I think there are dangerous. Fierce sectarian fighting if for example this terrorist organizations try to overrun. Sacred Shia sites which could trigger she assuming conflicts that could be very hard to stamp out. So we have enormous interest there and obviously. Our troops and the American people and American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices. In order to give Iraqis the opportunity. To chart a better course better dust and but ultimately they're gonna have to -- As I said before we are not going to be able to do it for them. And -- given the very difficult history that we've seen in Iraq. I think that any objective observer would recognize that. In the absence of accommodation among the various factions inside of Iraq. Various military actions. By the United States by any outside. Nation. Or not gonna solve those problems over the long term that deliver the kind of stability that we need. Nobody else Mr. President is the Syrian civil war spilling over the Iraq border. Well I think I think that's I think that's been evident for some time IS IL has been able with. -- gain a foothold in Syria that's part of the reason why we've been so concerned about it. That's part of the reason why we've been supporting. The Syrian opposition mayor. But it's -- problem in Iraq. The Iraqi Government which was initially resistant. To some of our offers of help. Has come around now to recognize that. Cooperation with -- on some of these issues can be useful obviously that's not the case in Syria where. President's -- Has no interest in seeing us involved there and where. Some of the governments that are supporting us. Have been able to block for example. UN efforts even -- humanitarian -- But this is a regional problem and it is going to be a long term problem and what we're gonna have to do is combine. Selective actions. By our military to make sure that we're going after terrorists who could. -- -- personnel overseas or eventually. Hit the homeland we're -- to combine that with what is a very challenging international effort. To try to. Rebuild. Countries and communities that. Have been shattered by sectarian war. And that's not an easy task. What words were in contact with a map so we'll have a better sense. By the end of the weekend. After those consultations. And we will be. Getting a better sense from them. How they might support an effort. Two to bring. Bring about the kind of political unity inside of Iraq that -- security forces look the United States has -- lot of money. Into these Iraqi Security Forces and we devoted a lot of training to Iraqi Security Forces. The fact that. They are not willing to stand and fight and defend their posts. Against. Admittedly hardened terrorists but not. Terrorists who -- overwhelming in numbers. Indicates that there's a problem. Where is morale. There's a problem in terms of commitments. And ultimately that's rooted in the political problems that have plagued the country. For very long time last question. Russell thank you can you talk a little bit about US concern -- disruption potential disruption of oil supplies. Well so far at least. We have not seen major disruptions. In oil supplies obviously if in fact -- SIL. Was able to -- control over. Major output. Significant refineries. That could be a source of concern. As you might expect the world -- markets react to any kind of instability in the Middle East. You know. One of our goals should be to make sure that in cooperation with other countries in the region not only are we creating some sort of backstop. In terms of what's happening inside of Iraq but if there do end up being disruptions -- -- -- that some of the other producers in the gulf. Or are able to pick up the slack so that'll be part of the consultations we'll be taking place during the course of this week just to give people a sense of timing here. -- although events on the ground in Iraq have been happening very quickly. Our ability to plan. Whether it's military action or. Work with the Iraqi Government on somebody's political issues is going to take several days so people should not anticipate that. That this is something that is gonna happen -- night. We want to make sure that we. We have. Good eyes on the situation there we want to make sure that we've gathered all the intelligence it's necessary so that if in fact I do direct. And order any actions there that they're targeted their precise and they're gonna have an effect. And desired indicated before and I want to make sure that her but he understands this message. The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan. By the Iraqis. -- gives us some assurance that they're prepared to work together. We're not -- Allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation. In which. While were there. We're keeping a lid on things and after enormous sacrifices by us as soon as we're not -- the suddenly. People end up acting in ways that or not conducive to long term stability and prosperity a group of the country. -- -- thank you very much -- Our -- President Obama -- on the worsening situation in Iraqis see Marine One there behind him as he was speaking now. Walking the way making it very clear that military action is very much on the table a couple of key things I heard from the president there off the top we will not send troops. But that he has asked national security team and members of his team to put together a list of options are -- -- -- chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl because everyone at home listening to this. It's gonna want to know what are these options John. Well we know they're looking at a variety of options regarding airstrikes these could be manned or unmanned air strikes. That would target some of those. Some of this group the group on the ground that is now just about seventy miles outside of Baghdad. Also increased military support to the Iraqi Government but I thought it was significant. To hear the president saying that this. Is not solely or even primarily a military problem clearly signaling. It if he decides to give that order to do some sort of military action in Iraq it is only gonna come after a commitment from the Iraqi Government. To do something on the issue of political reconciliation. This is a president David that is incredibly reluctant to do anything militarily in Iraq. Given our recent history there. And clearly because he campaigned at one point about bringing the troops out of Iraq ending the war there -- that is what he did the John. Correct me if I'm wrong but I sensed a real frustration on the president's part there -- Iraqi Security Forces who were trained in large part by American troops who are now. Dropping their uniforms their weapons and and not putting up a -- I thought that was highly notable -- incredible frustration with those military forces the United States spent a lot of blood and treasure to train they come on an enemy like this they abandoned their post as he pointed out. It it is an enemy that is not particularly large in terms of its number or it's power it's vicious but it is not particularly formidable. The way the president was describing it. And -- Iraqi forces were unable to do anything by way of pushing back also notable -- it was timing the president give a very clear indication. Of its timing nothing's gonna happen over the next couple days of this -- be several days away if he decides to do anything at all. All right Jon Karl at -- White House John thank you very much the president the first lady of now both boarded Marine One headed to North Dakota. For Flag Day events -- the team will have complete coverage tonight on world news with Diane -- until then updates throughout the -- -- abcnews.com. I'm David -- we'll see when world news until today. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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