U.S President Barack Obama on Monday hailed the naming of a new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, as a "promising step," while the U.S. military launched new airstrikes against positions of the jihadist Islamic State forces in northern Iraq.
"The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government ... Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this critical effort ... President Massoum named a new prime minister designate, Dr. Haider al-Abadi," Obama said in a brief statement from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he is on vacation.
The president applauded the departure from power of the head of the interim Iraqi government, Shiite Nuri al-Maliki, whom Washington considers to be responsible for the country's internal tensions between Shiites and Sunnis and a focus of division.
But, once again, he noted that "there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq" and insisted that the "successful" air attacks carried out by the U.S. on positions and equipment of the Islamic State fighters are "limited" in nature.
As part of this broad political strategy, the appointment of al-Abadi by Massoum and the creation of a government open to all Iraqis is one of the requirements set forth by Washington for continuing to support Iraq in its fight against the advance of the Islamic State jihadists, who already control part of the country, including several large cities such as Mosul.
Meanwhile, military operations near Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and where Washington maintains a consulate, continued during the day as U.S. military aircraft conducted several waves of bombardments on jihadist positions.
Obama said that there are no plans to expand the bombing campaign to other parts of Iraq, and he said they would remain focused on the area around Erbil and Mt. Sinjar, where thousands of Yazidi and Kurdish Christians have taken refuge but are stranded.
"(The airstrikes advance) the limited military objectives we've outlined in Iraq: protecting American citizens, providing advice and assistance to Iraqi forces as they battle these terrorists, and joining with international partners to provide humanitarian aid," the president added.
Specifically, the Pentagon acknowledged that the airstrikes carried out so far have not halted or weakened the jihadists' advance and have only temporarily affected the Islamic State forces.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department acknowledged Monday for the first time that U.S. collaboration with the Kurdish "Peshmerga" militia, which is fighting the jihadists in northern Iraq, includes directly providing them with weapons.
During the day, U.S. and British cargo planes made new deliveries of water, food and basic supplies to the thousands of Yazidi and Christian refugees who are trapped on Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq.
The U.S. military intervention, although limited in nature and supported by a majority of Americans, has reopened domestic criticism of Obama for recommitting U.S. forces to an area from where he withdrew the country's troops in 2011.
The Republican opposition accuses the president of not having a clear strategy in the region, and even former Secretary of State - and prospective Democratic presidential hopeful in 2016 - Hillary Clinton, said that Obama should have given more help early on to the Syrian rebels to contain the Islamic State before it began its advance into Iraq. EFE