President Obama Makes a Statement on the Crisis in Iraq


Tonight, in a statement addressing the current crisis in Iraq, President Obama announced that he authorized two operations in the country — “targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death.”

The President went on to explain the actions the United States is taking, and why:

First, I said in June — as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq — that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it.  In recent days, these terrorists have continued to move across Iraq, and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and civilians serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces.

To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.  We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.  We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.

Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.  As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis.  And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect.  Countless Iraqis have been displaced.  And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.

In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives.  And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs.  They’re without food, they’re without water.  People are starving.  And children are dying of thirst.  Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.  So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice:  descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.

President Obama reiterated that the U.S. “cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world,” but explained why the current situation in Iraq requires the U.S. to act — and act now:

When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.  We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.  That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.

I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there.  Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive.  Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, “There is no one coming to help.”  Well today, America is coming to help.  We’re also consulting with other countries — and the United Nations — who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.

The President also said that he understands many people are “rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these” — and made clear that he “will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”

“Even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” he said.

There’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq.  So even as we carry out these two missions, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis.  Iraqi leaders need to come together and forge a new government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and that can fight back against the threats like ISIL.  Iraqis have named a new President, a new Speaker of Parliament, and are seeking consensus on a new Prime Minister.  This is the progress that needs to continue in order to reverse the momentum of the terrorists who prey on Iraq’s divisions.

Once Iraq has a new government, the United States will work with it and other countries in the region to provide increased support to deal with this humanitarian crisis and counterterrorism challenge.  None of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in this terrible suffering or instability.

And so we’ll continue to work with our friends and allies to help refugees get the shelter and food and water they so desperately need, and to help Iraqis push back against ISIL.  The several hundred American advisors that I ordered to Iraq will continue to assess what more we can do to help train, advise and support Iraqi forces going forward.  And just as I consulted Congress on the decisions I made today, we will continue to do so going forward.

Read the President’s full statement here.


KRG briefs diplomats on security developments and humanitarian emergency

The KRG Department of Foreign Relations and the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs today briefed diplomats and representatives of international organizations based in Erbil on the latest security, humanitarian and political developments.

The Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, thanked the diplomats for their attendance and discussed the security threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the entire Middle East. Minister Mustafa said, “ISIS considers all who do not share their ideology as enemies. They are against the fundamental principles of humanity.”

He added, “We are dealing with a terrorist organization with members across the world, and it is a threat to all. Fighting ISIS is not only the responsibility of the Kurdistan Region. Terrorism is an international threat, and therefore the international community has a responsibility to support the KRG as it combats ISIS.”

The Minister asked diplomats to urge their countries to take action. “We have received expressions of appreciation and gratitude from the international community as we provide a safe haven for refugees and IDPs and combat a ruthless terrorist organization. It is now time for the international community to step forward, urgently, and provide the KRG with humanitarian assistance and military support, particularly air support.”

Jabar Yawar, official spokesperson of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, briefed diplomats about military developments on the ground. Highlighting the Peshmerga forces’ urgent need for military support, he said, “Prior to the withdrawal of the U.S forces and long before the fall of Mosul, 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, 20,000 American soldiers, and the Peshmerga forces were jointly protecting the line between the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq, which is 1050 km. Unfortunately, the Peshmerga forces are now alone in protecting those areas with their limited military weaponry.”

Highlighting the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Mount Sinjar, Minister Mustafa called upon the international community to provide urgent support, including humanitarian aid and air transportation, for the thousands of families stranded on the mountain.

The Minister addressed the tension between Erbil and Baghdad, stating that “the federal government has not sent the Kurdistan Region any share of the federal revenue, in violation of the Iraqi Constitution. Meanwhile, the political process in Iraq remains at an impasse.”

Egyptian Consul Soliman Osman, Dean of the consular corps, expressed his gratitude for the briefing on behalf of the diplomats. During the meeting, several diplomats and representatives exchanged thoughts on the recent developments.

The meeting was attended by diplomats from Egypt, France, the Russian Federation, Jordan, Palestine, the United States of America, Turkey, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Iran, Italy, Romania, France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, the United Nations, and the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Organisation, ECHO.

The meeting was also attended by senior officials from the KRG Department of Foreign Relations.


Statement from President Masoud Barzani

Proud people of Kurdistan,

The people of Kurdistan are accustomed, in their culture, to respect and abide by religious pluralism and coexistence. They have not intimidated anyone and throughout history they have always been in a defensive position. However, the enemies never stand still and they aim, whenever possible, to harm our people in every way they can.

Following the events of Mosul, Kurdistan has only defended itself. However, the terrorists started to provoke and attack Kurdistan, resulting in the recent distressing incidents. Therefore, we decided to go beyond the defensive position and fight the terrorists to the last breath. We have ordered the Peshmerga forces to attack the terrorists and the enemies of the people and the land of Kurdistan with all their power.

The recent developments in the areas of Zumar and Sinjar and the tragedy that faced our Yezidi brothers and sisters are heartbreaking. We reassure the people of Kurdistan that we will not relinquish an inch of the territory of Kurdistan and that we will defend Sinjar and our Yezidi brothers and sisters dearly, and that Sinjar Mountain will continue to stand tall. This beloved and indigenous part of our nation will remain proud and it is our duty to protect it.

Terrorism is a global issue and it requires an international response and effort to combat it. For years, Kurdistan has been the victim of terror and terrorists. It is unfortunate that we have been alone and that no one has helped the people of Kurdistan to defend against terror. Yet, in fighting terror we have always relied on the support of our people, the Peshmerga, and security forces. We have always adhered to the principles of freedom and the genuine culture of coexistence and tolerance in Kurdistan, and this is our point of strength when it comes to attaining victory against our enemies and terrorists.

Today, our valiant forces have started offensive attacks against the terrorists and they are marching forward. I urge the people of Kurdistan, the political parties and the Kurdish media to treat the situation with utmost responsibility and to preserve national unity more than ever. I reassure our courageous Peshmerga that the people of Kurdistan will support them using all means at their disposal, and that they are looking up to your courage, bravery and sacrifices.

Finally, I thank the people of Kurdistan for demonstrating resilience – the courageous Peshmerga forces, the voluntary forces, and the proud families of the martyrs. And rest assured that a bright future awaits the people of Kurdistan.

Long live Kurdistan

Glory and immortality to the martyrs of freedom

Masoud Barzani
President of the Kurdistan Region
4 August 2014


KRG to provide support to Yazidi Kurds fleeing from ISIS terror

Over the weekend the towns of Sinjar and Zumar fell to an ISIS onslaught that saw the majority of the town’s population flee in panic. Both Sinjar and Zumar are largely populated by Kurds of the Yazidi faith. For fear of persecution by the terrorist group ISIS, the Yazidi Kurds fled north towards the mountains for cover. That being said, many were unfortunate and their fate was ultimately sealed by the terrorists.

The Kurdistan Regional Government is doing its utmost to provide support to the people who are fleeing persecution.The KRG is also asking the international community to offer its hand of assistance in order to prevent a human catastrophe from taking place in the region.

As a result of the recent events, the Kurdish forces, at the command of the KRG’s President Masoud Barzani, have changed from a defensive to an offensive mode in order to re-take Sinjar and Zumar so as stability can be restored and the Yazidi Kurds can return to their homes and continue with their lives as soon as possible.

The Kurdistan Regional Government is committed to ensuring that ethnic and religious minorities live in peace, free from the fear of persecution and free to conduct their cultural and religious practices.