BAGHDAD Winding up a day of crisis talks with Iraqi leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the Sunni militants seizing territory in Iraq had become such a threat that the United States might not wait for Iraqi politicians to form a new government before taking military action.
They do pose a threat, Mr. Kerry said, referring to the fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They cannot be given safe haven anywhere.
Thats why, again, I reiterate the president will not be hampered if he deems it necessary if the formation is not complete, he added, referring to the Iraqi efforts to establish a new multisectarian government that bridges the deep divisions among the majority Shiites and minority Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller groups.
American officials, drawn increasingly back into a struggle that President Obama had sought to end, do not want to be seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict. They have stressed in recent days that the establishment of an cross-sectarian Iraqi government would make it easier for the United States to provide military support for Iraq, including airstrikes.
Within Iraq, American officials say, ISIS has set its sights on destroying the Shiite shrine in Samarra, which would likely lead to an explosion of sectarian violence in Iraq. An attack on the shrine in early 2006 escalated a wave of sectarian killings that was not reduced until the United States troop surge in 2007 and 2008.
Clearly, everyone understands that Samarra is an important line, Mr. Kerry said. " Historically, an assault on Samarra created enormous problems in Iraq. That is something that we all do not want to see happen again. And so the president and the team, the entire security team, are watching this movement and these events very, very closely.
So great are the concerns that Mr. Kerry stressed on Monday that if American action is taken soon President Obama has said that he is considering airstrikes it should not be interpreted as a gesture of political support for Mr. Malikis Shiite-dominated government, but rather as a strike against the ISIS militants.
Pay attention everyone. The unity government is wanted by the US to give cover to the US military action that is coming. And now, we may not even wait for the government to form. The administration has already said they don't need Congress and now they don't need Iraq. The moment Obama orders airstrikes in Iraq, he takes up Bush's banner of the illegal war.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Baghdad today that President Barack Obama is gathering the information hed need if he decides to order airstrikes to counter the advance of Sunni militants in Iraq.
The president has moved the assets into place and has been gaining each day the assurances he needs with respect to potential targeting, Kerry said.
Obama has reserved the right to himself, as he should, to make a decision at any time to undertake strikes, Kerry said at a press conference at the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad. We are implementing a strategy now; we are not waiting, he said.
Administration officials said today that some military and political obstacles still remain in the path of renewed U.S. military action in Iraq more than two years after Obama withdrew the last U.S. combat forces from the country.
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Increased U.S. surveillance and intelligence-gathering is already providing better information to Iraqs military in remote border regions, the official said, and the the U.S. will deliver additional supplies to the Iraqi government and military as early as June 25.
Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Iraqi leaders Monday as radical Sunni militants continue their march toward Baghdad during the country's tensest time since the U.S. withdrawal of troops in 2011.
"The future of Iraq depends on decisions made in the next few days and weeks," Kerry said after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the man who some observers say needs to step down.
Al-Maliki has agreed to a July 1 deadline to form a new government, a requirement for U.S. assistance in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Kerry said.
"Our support will be intense, sustained," and will be effective if Iraqi leaders unite to face the militant threat, he said.
Kerry has made it clear, if it were still in doubt. The US military is back in business in Iraq. As a condition, Al-Maliki must form a new government by July 1. If that condition is met, the US will assist in fighting and our support will be intense and sustained. Intense cannot be understood in any way other than military strikes. We are marching towards renewed US military action in Iraq.
If Obama "renews" US military action in Iraq, he will be justifying and continuing Bush's illegal war.
The Obama administration has begun to consider the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as a single challenge, with an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency threatening both countries governments and the regions broader stability, according to senior administration officials.
At a National Security Council meeting this week, President Obama and his senior advisers reviewed the consequences of possible airstrikes in Iraq, a bolder push to train Syrias moderate rebel factions, and various political initiatives to break down the sectarian divisions that have stirred Iraqs Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Senior administration officials familiar with the discussions say what is clear to the president and his advisers is that any long-term plan to slow the progress of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as the insurgency is known, will have far-reaching consequences on both sides of the increasingly inconsequential desert border between the two countries.
The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country, working with moderate Syrian opposition, working with an Iraqi government that is inclusive, and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction, Obama said at a news conference Thursday. Rather than try to play whack-a-mole wherever these terrorist organizations may pop up, what we have to do is to be able to build effective partnerships.
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