President Obama said the United States of America will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action to blunt the rapid advance of Islamic militants that have been spreading sectarian violence in Iraq.
Obama outlined a multipart plan to help prevent Iraq from descending into outright civil war. It includes sending up to 300 military advisers, along with increasing security and surveillance in the war-torn country.
The plan does not entail sending combat troops, Obama emphasized.
“American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again,” he said, repeating a point he made last Friday. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that [have] already been expended in Iraq.”
Responding to a question, Obama said Iran can play a constructive role in Iraq if it follows the U.S. lead in pressing for the establishment of an inclusive government there.
But Obama warned that Iran could worsen the situation if it comes into the conflict solely as an armed force backing Iraq’s Shiite-led government.
The United States has deep differences with Iran on several issues, he said, adding that the bloody crisis in Syria partly stems from Iran coming in “hot and heavy on one side.”
Obama said if Iran views the region “solely through sectarian frames,” Iranians could find themselves fighting in a whole lot of places at the expense of the Iranian economy and the Iranian people.