Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner angrily accused President Obama of “taking a nap” while Sunni terrorists sweep through northern Iraq and advance on Baghdad.
Boehner convened the news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill, discussing the trade of five dangerous Taliban prisoners from Gitmo and the race for a new Republican majority leader after Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in a Virginia primary on Tuesday.
But the Speaker saved particular scorn for the Obama administration’s handling of an exploding crisis in Iraq, after terrorists from the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” captured the country’s second-largest city and sent Iraqi military forces scrambling south.
“Back in January, I urged the president to get engaged in what’s going on in Iraq,” he said. “This week we’ve seen the big cities in Iraq overrun with terrorists.”
The Speaker highlighted the “serious consequences” resulting from the White House’s failure to secure a “status-of-forces agreement” that would’ve seen some U.S. troops remain in Iraq, rather than the complete withdrawal that occurred in late 2011.
“The administration’s failed policies in Syria, Libya and Egypt and his failure to implement a broader strategy for the Middle East is having a direct impact on the situation in Iraq,” Boehner charged. “The United States has, and will continue to have, vital national interests in Iraq. But the progress made there is clearly in jeopardy.”
“The president celebrated our exit from Iraq as a hallmark of his foreign policy agenda,” he continued, “but our focus should be instead on completing our mission successfully. I would urge the president, once again, to get engaged before it is too late.”
Boehner became more pointed when a reporter asked if the United States should conduct airstrikes in the country, as the Iraqi government has suggested. While claiming he doesn’t know enough details to comment on whether strikes would be appropriate, he suggested that President Obama should have already had a plan to deal with this situation.
“It’s not like we haven’t seen this problem coming for over a year,” he noted. “And it’s not like we haven’t seen, over the last five or six months, these terrorists moving in, taking control of western Iraq.”
“Now they’ve taken control of Mosul, they’re 100 miles from Baghdad,” Boehner continued. “And what’s the president doing? He’s taking a nap.”
With that, the Speaker stalked angrily away from the podium.