Obama on ISIS, Iraq: 'We Don't Have a Complete Strategy Yet'

President Obama did a good job of ignoring Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi after a G-7 photo shoot in Germany, while telling the media that they’ve yet to arrive at a “complete strategy” against ISIS.


Obama was captured on video never turning to the prime minister next to him even as Abadi waited with his translator to get the president’s attention.

Obama did hold a bilateral sit-down with Abadi, in which he declared that the U.S. has “a reliable partner” in Abadi and “we have seen successes but we have also seen setbacks.”

Abadi said “one round we lost was in Ramadi, but I say that we lost it only temporarily.”

“We have liberated a space and amount of land in Iraq that is many folds more than what they have in Ramadi,” he said.

“Undoubtedly, we will win the war — we will win the war over ISIS that has a bad ideology, an ideology that is attempting at sabotaging archeological sites and killing citizens, and targeting and killing minorities, and causing destruction in Sunni cities.”

At a press conference by himself, Obama said the two talked about “areas where we’re going to have to improve” including “the speed at which we’re training Iraqi forces.”

“We have made significant progress in pushing back ISIL from areas in which they had occupied or disrupted local populations. But we’ve also seen areas, like in Ramadi, where they’re displaced in one place and then they come back in in another. And they’re nimble and they’re aggressive and they’re opportunistic,” he said.


“Where we’ve trained Iraqi forces directly and equipped them, and we have a train-and-assist posture, they operate effectively. Where we haven’t, morale, lack of equipment, et cetera, may undermine the effectiveness of Iraqi security forces. So we want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well equipped and focused.”

On accelerating the Iraqis’ training, Obama said “when a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people.”

“It’s not — I — we don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place; how that training takes place. And so the details of that are not yet worked out,” he said.

“I think what is fair to say is that all the countries in the international coalition are prepared to do more to train Iraqi security forces, if they feel like that additional work is being taken advantage of. And one of the things that we’re still seeing is, in Iraq, places where we’ve got more training capacity than we have recruits.”


White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday that they expected Abadi to go into the meeting with Obama “grateful for the kind of support that he has seen from the international community.”

Abadi has stressed in recent weeks that he needs far more help from coalition partners to contain and defeat ISIS.

“The president and his team are constantly reviewing their strategy and looking for lessons learned, particularly in those areas where the strategy has been successful in making progress against ISIl, using those lessons learned and applying those to the areas where we’ve experiences some setbacks,” Earnest said.


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