President Obama on Monday took a break from his summer vacation to praise the nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister as a "promising step forward" in the nation's battle to hold off a terrorist takeover.
Iraq's president chose Haider al-Abadi as a replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Obama said he and Vice President Joe Biden had each called al-Abadi to pledge support as he tries to form a new government that can stabilize the country against the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Obama's public show of support for al-Abadi, delivered in a brief statement from Martha's Vineyard, was a clear rebuke of al-Maliki, who wants to run for a third term. Maliki challenged Iraq's president, Fouad Massoum, in a late-night televised address, accusing him of a "clear constitutional violation" in deciding to nominate someone other than him for prime minister. He then deployed troops around Baghdad to head off an attempted coup.
Obama made no mention of al-Maliki in his statement. He said U.S. airstrikes had "successfully" slowed the ISIL advance and helped "some" stranded Yazidis had begun to escape from their perch on a mountain in Sinjar. Kurdish forces have reversed some ISIL gains, and Obama said U.S. aircraft remain positioned to strike terrorists threatening civilians and U.S. military personnel.
"This advances the limited military objectives we've outlined in Iraq," Obama said.
But he added: "There is no American military solution to the broader crisis in Iraq."
This advances the limited military objectives we’ve outlined in Iraq: protecting American citizens, providing advice and assistance to Iraqi forces as they battle these terrorists, and joining with international partners to provide humanitarian aid. But as I said when I authorized these operations, there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government -- one that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and one that can unify the country’s fight against ISIL."