Much remains to be done to defeat Daesh, but “as long as the international coalition sustains its efforts, and as long as Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi government stay committed to an inclusive approach… I’m absolutely confident that we will succeed,” President Obama said after a June 8 meeting with Abadi during the G7 Summit in Germany.
At a press conference following the summit the president said, “One of the areas where we’re going to have improve is the speed at which we’re training Iraqi forces.”
“We want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well-equipped and focused,” Obama said, adding that Abadi “wants the same thing.”
Political inclusion in Iraq remains as important as the military component to fight terrorists, the president said.
“If Sunnis, Kurds and Shia all feel as if their concerns are being addressed, and that operating within a legitimate political structure can meet their need for security, prosperity, nondiscrimination, then we’re going to have a much easier time,” Obama said. “The good news is Prime Minister Abadi is very much committed to that principle.”
Obama said he hopes the Iraqi parliament will act on the National Guard legislation to help Sunni fighters become more involved in security, a strategy that has worked in the recent past.
“This is part of what helped defeat AQI [al-Qaida in Iraq] — the precursor of ISIL — during the Iraq War in 2006,” Obama said. “Without that kind of local participation, even if you have a short-term success, it’s very hard to hold those areas.”
The strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat Daesh includes stemming the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria. Progress continues, Obama said, but more cooperation among regional partners is needed.
“If we can cut off some of that foreign fighter flow, then we’re able to isolate and wear out ISIL forces that are already there,” the president said. “We’re taking a lot of them off the battlefield,” Obama added, “but if they’re being replenished, then it doesn’t solve the problem over the long term.”