Obama Could Act in Iraq without US Congress Approval

Defense | June 19, 2014, Thursday // 10:13|  views

From left to right, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, DC. Photo by EPA/BGNES

US President Barack Obama could intervene in Iraq without seeking support from lawmakers, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said after Obama met Congress members.

In his words, the President "he didn't feel he had any need for authority" to take steps on the Islamist militants' advance in Iraq, as the BBC quoted McConnell as saying.

Latest meetings over the conflict in Iraq come as Baghdad asked Washington to carry out air strikes against rebels the Iraqi army is currently fighting.

Earlier, Obama said all options were on the table, without ruling out air strikes, but Washington's press office later elaborated that dispatching ground troops was out of the question.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), leading an alliance of Sunni insurgents, has taken a umber of towns and cities in the country since last week and has voiced plans to create an Islamist enclave out of territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.

On Wednesday it temporarily took hold of Baiji, Iraq's largest oil refinery.

The military partially regained control of the refinery and also of Tal Afar, a city near the border with Syria, according to Al Jazeera reports.

US Vice President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meanwile held a phone conversation to discuss the ongoing situation.

Biden, however, also telephoned Kurdish leader, President Massoud Barzani, and Sunni legislator Osama al-Nujaifi, a move which some point as an effort to forge national unity as a response to the crisis.

While the Obama administration has not explicitly called on Maliki and his Shia-dominated government to step down, other US politicians, like Senator John McCain, have openly done so.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, for his part, said Wednesday in Congress that Maliki's cabinet "has never fulfilled" its commitments to have a national unity government involving Shia, Sunni and Kurdish representatives.

Many accuse Maliki of discriminating against both Sunnis and Kurds.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reminded it was "not, obviously, for [the US] to decide" on Maliki's future.

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Tags: Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Jay Carney, Chuck Hagel, Iraq, ISIS, Nouri Al-Maliki, Massoud Barzani, Baiji, Osama al-Nujaifi


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