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White House Downplays Chances Of Military Rescue For Stranded Iraqis

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Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House spokesman Josh Earnest minimized the prospect that U.S. forces would aid several non-violent ethnic and religious minorities who are now being destroyed and dispersed by a genocidal jihadi army in northern Iraq.

But he hinted that U.S. forces might fly humanitarian aid to a large group of the politically neutral Yazidi people — up to 40,000 civilians — who are trapped on a stark mountain by the jihadi army.

However, the U.S. won’t intervene in Iraq until Iraq’s political leaders create a unified government, Earnest said. “There are no American military solutions to the problem in Iraq,” he insisted.

The president departs for a two-week vacation Friday, likely ensuring that he’ll be seen on vacation while the jihadi army advances through Iraq.

That unpleasant split-screen might further demoralize his progressive voters, and nudge down his turnout in November.

“The root of this problem is that we have not seen an inclusive Iraq government,” that is capable of fighting the jihadi army, Earnest said.

Iraq held a national election in April, but has yet to appoint a prime minister and other top officials, he said.

“The America people cannot solve this problem for the Iraqi people,” Earnest said.

But Obama has played a role in Iraq’s divisions. He pulled nearly all U.S. forces out of Iraq in 2010, allowing the Iraqi government to break its power-sharing deal with the militant Sunni minority. That minority has provided most of the manpower for the jihadi army.

Since Obama’s pullout, Iraq’s government has fractured, Iran’s influence has increased, and the north-eastern third of the country has been occupied by a Syria-based Islamic army.

Many Christians have fled the northern Iraq region after the jihadi army captured the large regional city of Mosul.

In the last week, the jihadi army has expanded its military campaign, and has overrun a region that is home to the Yazidi community.

Yazidis are an ethnic group with their own pre-Christian religion, which is regarded as blasphemous by fundamentalist Muslims.

News reports says the jihadi army, which calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has followed Koranic precepts and has murdered many Yazidi men and sold many Yazidi women into slavery.

The atrocities are “barbaric [and] disgusting,” Earnest said. But “Iraq’s leaders and people must confront the root causes,” he said.

Earnest was also asked if stopping “ethnic slaughter and cleansing” is a core American interest.

In response, Earnest hedged, saying “that is something we analyze on a case-by-case basis.”

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