Washington, D.C. — Today, President Barack Obama authorized limited airstrikes in northern Iraq against the jihadi militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, to protect American citizens and facilities and to protect the besieged Yazidi ethnic group. The United States began air dropping humanitarian aid to Iraqi citizens trapped by ISIS forces. In response, Vikram Singh, Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement.
“The decision to authorize airstrikes in Iraq is not taken lightly by the United States, but, as in this case, targeted strikes can sometimes help to neutralize a dangerous threat and save innocent lives. The Obama administration has so far taken many of the calibrated steps that CAP recommended in June to degrade ISIS’s ability to further destabilize Iraq or threaten U.S. interests and citizens. Striking ISIS—as it targets the Yazidi population in northern Iraq, mounts pressure on the Kurdish controlled city of Irbil, and takes over the critical Mosul Dam—can be one important piece of a larger strategy to help stabilize Iraq and counter ISIS.
The United States and other nations should help slow ISIS’s advance against the Iraqi Army and the Kurdistan Regional Government and try to provide the space necessary for the Iraqis to regroup. Limited airstrikes, supported by solid intelligence, can play an important role in this effort and can help protect civilians. Within Iraq, this crisis remains a political challenge that can only be resolved by a more inclusive Iraqi government. Regardless, the United States and nations in the region should take steps to protect the people and governments threatened by ISIS, including Iraqi civilians, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and vital partners such as Jordan and other regional states.”