— -- The president today lauded Iraqi President Fouad Massoum for naming Haider al-Ibadi as Iraq’s new prime minister-designate, calling it an “important step” on the path towards a more inclusive government that would “unite Iraq’s different communities.”
Mobilizing international support to combat terrorism in the region would be “easier” once a new government was put into place, said Obama, noting that both he and Vice President Joe Biden had pushed al-Ibadi to appoint a new cabinet “as quickly as possible.”
“I urge all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process in the days ahead,” Obama said during a news conference while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard.
Absent from Obama’s remarks was any mention of Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, who claims the naming of his successor was unconstitutional.
“This new Iraqi leadership has a difficult task. It has to regain the confidence of its citizens by governing inclusively and by taking steps to demonstrate its resolve," he added. “The United States stands ready to support a government that addresses the needs and grievances of all Iraqi people.”
The president also reiterated his commitment to provide “to partner with Iraq in its fight against ... terrorist forces” in the region.
With the militant group ISIS poised to attack the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, President Obama authorized several rounds of airstrikes late last week.
The strikes, deemed necessary to protect the U.S. consulate in Erbil as well as locals fleeing ISIS, wiped out militants’ arms and equipment. Meanwhile, accompanied by U.S. fighter jets, Air Force cargo planes dropped food and water to refugees stranded on a nearby mountain.
"Our aircraft remain positioned to strike any terrorist forces around the mountain who threaten the safety" of the stranded families, the president warned.
Once again, Obama promised that U.S. ground troops, which were withdrawn in 2012, will not be sent back, saying today that “the only lasting solution ... is for Iraqis to come together to support a new and inclusive government.”
Though critics remain skeptical that the president can accomplish his goals in Iraq without the use of ground forces, Obama continued to insist "there is no American military solution" to Iraq’s slew of problems. Instead, the U.S. will let the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces take the lead in pushing back against the ISIS surge and working to create a new government.