President acknowledges military setbacks in fight against IS, urges Baghdad to allow more Sunnis in campaign against terror group
ELMAU, Germany (AP) — Acknowledging military setbacks, President Barack Obama said Monday the United States still lacks a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State. He urged Iraq’s government to allow more of the nation’s Sunnis to join the campaign against the violent militants.
Nearly one year after American troops started returning to Iraq to assist local forces, Obama said the Islamic State remains “nimble, aggressive and opportunistic.” He touted “significant progress” in areas where the US has trained Iraqis to fight but said forces without US assistance are often ill-equipped and suffer from poor morale.
IS fighters captured the key Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi last month, prompting Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lament that Iraqi troops lacked “the will to fight.” That was a strikingly negative assessment of a military that has been the beneficiary of billions in US assistance dating back to the war started during the administration of US President George. W. Bush in 2003.
Still, Obama indicated that simply increasing the number of Americans in Iraq would not resolve the country’s issues. The US currently has about 3,000 troops there for train-and-assist missions.
“We’ve got more training capacity than we have recruits,” he said at the close of a two-day Group of Seven meeting at a luxury resort tucked in the Bavarian Alps.
In both public and private, Obama urged Abadi and his Shiite-led government to allow more Sunnis to fight the Islamic State. The White House has long blamed Iraq’s sectarian divisions for stoking the kind of instability that allowed the militants to thrive.
Full article: Obama admits US lacks ‘complete strategy’ in Iraq (The Times of Israel)