White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be proud of their success in “ending the war in Iraq.”
His statement came just one day after a jihad army linked to al-Qaida captured much of Iraq’s second largest city.
Jihadis in the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” group seized parts of Mosul, overran the governor’s compound and captured an nearby airbase, on June 9 and 10, less than three years after Obama pulled the remaining small U.S. force out of Iraq.
The government’s forces fled southwards, leaving behind weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles and aircraft. Much of that weaponry will be used by ISIS to continue its jihad against the government of Iraq, the government of Syria, and other rebel groups in the area.
Earnest was asked by a reporter at the daily press conference to describe Clinton’s accomplishments while she was Secretary of State.
“Ending the war in Iraq and winding down in a responsible fashion the war in Afghanistan, and doing that after the success of our our efforts to dismantle and destroyed Al-Qaida core that had established a base of operations in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Earnest answered.
The White House gave no indication Tuesday that it would provide significant extra aid — or direct military support —to Iraq’s embattled government.
“We are closely watching the situation, we are concerned about how the security situation in Mosul has deteriorated so precipitously… that’s something we are watching,” Earnest said.
In late 2011, President Obama directed the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces — including aircraft armed with guided missiles — from the country, after failing to negotiate a deal with Iraq’s fractious government.
The al-Qaida forces in Iraq were forced into hiding in 2007, after President George W. Bush’s “surge” counteroffensive forced various Iraq rebel groups to make a deal with the government. The ISIS group is a spin-off of the Iraq-based al-Qaida organization.
Since 2011, the U.S. has supplied weapons, vehicles, tanks and training to the government’s new army.
Secretary of State Clinton had little to do with the 2011 withdrawal, which was largely managed by Vice President Joe Biden under policies set by Obama.
Since the U.S. withdrawal, the ISIS force has been able to build their strength in areas of neighboring Syria, whose government is paralyzed by a civil war. Early this year, ISIS forces captured the battered town of Fallujah, which is roughly 30 minutes by road from the center of the country’s capital city, Baghdad.
The al-Qaida and ISIS groups draw their support from the Sunni sect of Islam.
In contrast, the Iraqi government and army is drawn mostly from the Shia sector, whose members have been repressed by the Sunni minority for many decades.
Iraq’s next-door neighbor, Iran, is also a mostly Shia country, and will likely send aid to help its co-religionists. The government of Iraq will likely accept that aid — and the political strings that it comes with — because Obama has made clear he does not want to get involved in the war that he left behind.