- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2014

The Islamic extremist militants gaining strength in Iraq could threaten the United States someday, but that’s not enough of a reason to U.S. troops to “reoccupy” the country, President Obama said in an interview aired Monday.

“Unless we are prepared to stay indefinitely in all these various countries, something that we can’t afford and would involve, over time, accusations that we were occupying these countries,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

He stressed that having U.S. troops “reoccupy” Iraq was not an option for his administration.

“You know, at some stage, they’re going to have to take responsibility for working together,” he said of the Iraq government and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been taking over cities throughout the country and advancing toward Bagdad.

Mr. Obama defended his decision to pull out all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2012, which critics argue created a power vacuum that ISIL is filling. The president insisted that Iraq was “stable” when U.S. troops withdrew.

“Just because something’s stable two years or four years ago doesn’t mean that it’s stable right now. And what we have is a situation in which in part because of growing mistrust between Sunni and Shia, that some of the forces that have always possibly pulled Iraq apart are stronger now,” he said. “Those forces that could keep the country united are weaker. It is ultimately going to be up to the Iraqi leadership to try to pull the politics of the country back together again.” 


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