President Barack Obama said Friday the Iraqi government and military must include Sunni and Kurdish citizens if the U.S. is to provide support to the embattled regime.
In an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan to be aired Monday, he said support from U.S. military commanders will not continue if “we don’t see Sunni, Shia and Kurd representation, in the military command structure, if we don’t see Sunni, Shia and Kurd political support for what we’re doing.”
He added, “The terms in which we send any advisers would be dependent on us seeing that within the military and within the political structure, that there remains a commitment to – a unified and inclusive Iraqi government and armed forces.”
It’s the clearest indication yet that President Obama sees an Iraqi army that draws from the country’s three main communities as part of a solution to the hardline Sunni ISIL insurgency that has gained a foothold in the northern regions of the country.
He said a breakdown of trust and suspicion among Sunni citizens – and within the Iraqi security forces – was a key factor in the terror group’s rise.
It was also a strong message that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government needs to find ways for all citizens to address grievances with it.
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