Obama looking at all options to help Iraqi government

Friday 13 June 2014 07.32
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An Iraqi Army uniform lies on the ground in front of the remains of a burnt out Iraqi army vehicle east of Mosul
An Iraqi Army uniform lies on the ground in front of the remains of a burnt out Iraqi army vehicle east of Mosul
President Obama said the US has an interest in making sure jihadists do not gain a foothold in Iraq
President Obama said the US has an interest in making sure jihadists do not gain a foothold in Iraq
An Iraqi Kurdish security guard checks the ID cards of Iraqi families fleeing violence in the northern Nineveh province
An Iraqi Kurdish security guard checks the ID cards of Iraqi families fleeing violence in the northern Nineveh province
Smoke rises from burning police vehicles on a street in Tikrit
Smoke rises from burning police vehicles on a street in Tikrit
Iraqis who fled the violence in Mosul queue at a checkpoint in the Kurdistan region
Iraqis who fled the violence in Mosul queue at a checkpoint in the Kurdistan region

US President Barack Obama has said that he is looking at all options to help the Iraqi government face down a growing insurgency.

"I don't rule anything out," President Obama said when asked whether the United States is considering drone strikes or any other action to stop the insurgency.

However, White House spokesperson Jay Carney has said the US are not contemplating sending ground troops to Iraq.

Mr Obama, speaking to reporters at the White House as he met Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said the United States has an interest in making sure jihadists do not gain a foothold in Iraq.

He said there will be short-term immediate actions that need to be done militarily in Iraq, and that his national security team is looking at all options.

Mr Obama added the United States is prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened. 

UN Security Council holds Iraq crisis talks

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held talks today on the unraveling crisis in Iraq, where Kurds seized control of the contested oil city of Kirkuk and Arab jihadists pushed towards Baghdad.

The consultations behind closed doors were due to include a briefing by video link from the UN special representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov.

It remains deeply unclear what further steps, if any, the UN Security Council can take.

Russia, the current president of the Security Council, blamed the 2003 US-led invasion and the inadequate restructuring of the Saddam Hussein-era state apparatus before US troops left in 2011.

"It's obviously an extremely dramatic situation, clearly rooted in what happened in Iraq in 2003-2004," Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters on his way into the meeting.

"As far as we're concerned, we believe that the mission was not accomplished," he said.

"Now we need to see what can be done. As far as Russia is concerned, of course, we are strongly supporting the Iraqi government under the current circumstances," he added

Yesterday, the council condemned in "the strongest terms" the takeover of Iraq's northern city of Mosul by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, blacklisted as a terror group.

It denounced "terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated against the people of Iraq in an attempt to destabilize the country and region".

It also expressed grave concerns for hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes.

Mr Mladenov, a former Bulgarian foreign minister, heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, whose main task has been to help the government with political reconciliation efforts and elections.

He has previously emphasized the impact of the civil war in Syria on deteriorating security in Iraq, and the spill over of extremists groups across the border into Iraq.

Keywords: iraq