Obama Offers No Time Limit On Iraq Military Action......

Obama offers no time limit on Iraq military action. WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Saturday refused to give a time limit on America's renewed military involvement in Iraq, saying he doesn't think "we are going to solve this problem in weeks" as the country struggles to form a new government. "I think this is going to take some time," he said at the White House before departing for a vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

Obama warned Americans that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and "is going to be a long-term project."

The president said Iraqi security forces need to revamp to effectively mount an offensive, which requires a government in Baghdad that the Iraqi military and people have confidence in. Obama said Iraq needs a prime minister — an indication that suggests he's written off the legitimacy of the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama said he won't close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or the consulate in Irbil, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground. He said he is obligated as commander in chief to protect U.S. personnel wherever and whenever they are threatened.

The president said humanitarian efforts continue to airdrop food and water to persecuted religious minorities stranded on a mountaintop, and he said planning was underway for how to get them down.

Obama made his comments and took a few questions from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House just before boarding Marine One for his summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

"I'm ready to not have a suit on for a while," Obama told reporters as he headed back into the White House before boarding the helicopter.

The president repeated that the U.S. will not have U.S. combat troops in Iraq again. "We are going to maintain that because we should have learned a lesson from our long and immensely costly incursion into Iraq," Obama said.

He dismissed the suggestion that the new military action in Iraq might cause him to regret pulling out troops in the first place. He said the departure of U.S. troops was the Iraqi government's call because it failed to agree to legal immunity for American forces, which was the condition for them to stay.

Obama said that even if U.S. troops had remained, their presence would not have made much of a difference if the Iraqi government had followed the same political course of failing to incorporate the Sunni minority.

"The only difference is we would have a bunch of troops on the ground that would be vulnerable," Obama said.

"So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong, but gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made," Obama said.

But in as much as Iraqi leaders couldn't agree on immunity for U.S. forces, Obama also badly wanted U.S. troops out of Iraq to fulfill a campaign pledge.

The president said there's "no doubt" the Islamic State's advance on Irbil "has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates." But he said the airstrikes have destroyed the militants' arms and equipment.

U.S. military jets launched several airstrikes Friday on isolated targets, including two mortar positions and a vehicle convoy. U.S. officials announced Friday night the second airdrop of food and water in as many days for the imperiled refugees. http://news.yahoo.com/obama-airstrikes-destroyed-arms-equipment-14465518... Obama authorizes renewed airstrikes in Iraq. President Barack Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, warning they would be launched if needed to defend Americans from advancing Islamic militants and protect civilians under siege. His announcement threatened a renewal of U.S. military involvement in the country's long sectarian war. In a televised late-night statement Thursday from the White House, Obama said American military planes already had carried out airdrops of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Iraqi religious minorities surrounded by militants and desperately in need of food and water.

"Today America is coming to help," he declared.

The announcements reflected the deepest American engagement in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in late 2011 after nearly a decade of war. Obama, who made his remarks in a steady and somber tone, has staked much of his legacy as president on ending what he has called the "dumb war" in Iraq.

Obama said the humanitarian airdrops were made at the request of the Iraqi government. The food and water supplies were delivered to the tens of thousands of Yazidis trapped on a mountain without food and water. The Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, fled their homes after the Islamic State group issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death.

Mindful of the public's aversion to another lengthy war, Obama acknowledged that the prospect of a new round of U.S. military action would be a cause for concern among many Americans. He vowed anew not to put American combat troops back on the ground in Iraq and said there was no U.S. military solution to the crisis.

"As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," Obama said.

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President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in …
President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the State Dining Room at the White Hous …

Even so, he outlined a rationale for airstrikes if the Islamic State militants advance on American troops in the northern city of Irbil and the U.S. consulate there in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The troops were sent to Iraq earlier this year as part of the White House response to the extremist group's swift movement across the border with Syria and into Iraq.

"When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action," Obama said. "That's my responsibility as commander in chief."

He said he had also authorized the use of targeted military strikes if necessary to help the Iraqi security forces protect civilians.

Obama spoke following a day of urgent discussions with his national security team. He addressed the nation only after the American military aircraft delivering food and water to the Iraqis had safely left the drop site in northern Iraq.

The Pentagon said the airdrops were performed by one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together delivered a total of 72 bundles of food and water. They were escorted by two F/A-18 fighters from an undisclosed air base in the region.

The planes delivered 5,300 gallons (20,063 liters) of fresh drinking water and 8,000 pre-packaged meals and were over the drop area for less than 15 minutes at a low altitude.

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Yazidis in Iraq flee for their lives
Iraqi Yazidi women who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar sit at a school where …

The president cast the mission to assist the Yazidis as part of the American mandate to assist around the world when the U.S. has the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre.

In those cases, Obama said, "we can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide."

Officials said the U.S. was prepared to undertake additional humanitarian airdrops if necessary, though they did not say how quickly those missions could occur.

Administration officials said they believe unilateral U.S. strikes would be consistent with international law in part because the Iraqi government has asked for Washington to take military action. They also said Obama had the constitutional authority to act on his own in order to protect American citizens.

Still, there was no guarantee that the president's threat of military strikes would actually be followed by action. He similarly authorized strikes in Syria last summer after chemical weapons were deployed, but those attacks were never carried out, in part because of domestic political concerns and also because an international agreement to strip Syria of its stockpiles of the deadly gases.

The president has also faced persistent calls to take military action in Syria on humanitarian grounds, given that more than 170,000 people have been killed there.

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Iraqi Christians flee homes amid militant push
An Iraqi Christian woman fleeing the violence in the village of Qaraqush and Bartala, about 30 kms e …

Critics, including some Republicans in Congress, have argued that Obama's cautious approach to Syria has allowed the Islamic State group to flourish there, growing strong enough to move across the border with Iraq and make swift gains.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina praised Obama's proposed actions Thursday night but said much more will be necessary.

"This should include the provision of military and other assistance to our Kurdish, Iraqi, and Syrian partners" who are fighting the militants, airstrikes against the militants' leaders and forces and support for Sunni Iraqis who seek to resist the extremists, they said in a statement.

In light of the militants' advances, Obama dispatched about 800 U.S. forces to Iraq earlier this year, with those troops largely split between joint operation centers in Baghdad and Irbil.

More than half are providing security for the embassy and U.S. personnel. American service members also are involved in improving U.S. intelligence, providing security cooperation and conducting assessments of Iraqi capabilities.

Officials said there were no plans to evacuate those Americans from Iraq but that the U.S. was conducting enhanced intelligence flights over Irbil with both manned and unmanned aircrafts in order to monitor the deteriorating conditions.

If the president were to order actual airstrikes in Iraq, it's all but certain he would proceed without formal congressional approval. Lawmakers left town last week for a five-week recess, and there was no sign that Congress was being called back.

However, officials said the White House was in contact throughout Thursday with some lawmakers, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Some Republicans have expressly called for the president to take action and have said he doesn't need the approval of lawmakers. http://news.yahoo.com/obama-authorizes-renewed-airstrikes-iraq-021737249...

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