'Our Worst Fears About Iraq are Being Realized'
The White House said Wednesday night that Vice President Joe Biden hopped on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to primarily discuss the consulate seizure.
"The Vice President underscored the United States condemns the actions taken by ISIL, calls for the safe and immediate return of the Turkish personnel and family members, and supports efforts by Iraqi national and Kurdish security forces to work together to combat the ISIL threat," said the readout of the call. "The Vice President told Prime Minister Erdogan that the United States is prepared to support Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens and will stay in close touch with the Turkish and Iraqi governments regarding a resolution to the security situation."
Over at the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the Mosul takeover was yet another reminder that al-Qaeda "is not 'on the run' or 'on the path to defeat.'"
“This is not just about Iraq or Afghanistan’s future. It is about whether we will idly stand by as al Qaeda-linked terrorists threaten regional stability and seek to create a training and operational space spanning multiple countries and regions," Rubio said. "If we continue to downplay these threats, I fear the world will again be as dangerous as it was on Sept. 10, 2001, and terrorism will return to U.S. soil.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Iraqi government is conducting an investigation into the "structural breakdown" that led to cities falling and U.S. equipment being seized.
"Since we don't yet have an assessment, I just don't want to speculate on what steps we may or may not take," she said when asked if the U.S. would bomb fighter jets or other warfighting materials so al-Qaeda couldn't use them.
"Clearly the situation on the ground is very murky and we are trying to obtain confirmation on what assets ISIL may have obtained on the ground."
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. James Kirby noted to reporters Tuesday that "we have a pretty robust -- in fact, one of the most robust -- foreign military sales programs in the world with Iraq to the tune of about $14 billion."
That has included Hellfire missiles, Apache helicopter sales moving forward, and two F-16s on track for delivery in the fall.
"Ultimately, this is -- this is for the Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government to deal with. We're doing what we can through a more normalized military to military relationship. And we certainly have made it clear that we encourage Prime Minister Maliki to continue to work with tribal leadership in that area, that a more holistic approach to dealing with the threat of extremism inside their country," Kirby said.
He didn't have any specifics on the U.S. equipment captured, some of it paraded by militants in tweets and videos.
"We're watching it as closely as we can," Kirby said. "But I would be loathe here from Washington, D.C., to sort of read out specifics of the operations of these extremists. We're watching it unfold real time as well as you are."