Win McNamee/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) — Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will stand by the Iraqis as they deal with the threat of ISIS and said the country needs an inclusive central government that can lead Iraqi national forces against Islamist militants.
The secretary arrived in Baghdad Wednesday to participate in talks with Iraqi leaders to form a coalition against hostile militants and offer support for the new Iraqi government.
Kerry said was important that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s new government stand up new Iraqi national guard units that will protect their home regions, because the Iraqis can’t rely on U.S. airstrikes against ISIS alone.
“It won’t be just bombs. It will be comprehensive with Iraqi forces on the ground in Iraq,” Kerry said.
He said it was important for the Iraqi forces to be “reconstituted and trained” so that they can handle ISIS themselves. Iraqi troops largely folded when ISIS first invaded their country with the Mosul invasion back in June.
“This is a fight the Iraqis need to win and one that the U.S. and the rest of the world has to support every step of the way,” Kerry said.
Kerry noted he had been “encouraged” during his meetings with Iraq’s new government leaders at how willing they seemed to govern in a more inclusive manner than in the past, when former prime minister al-Maliki largely excluded Sunnis and other Iraqi minorities from his administration.
But Kerry could not give many specifics in terms of what tangible assurances those leaders gave him that they would continue to run the country this way, only that the U.S. is assured as long as they seem to be moving in the direction of inclusivity.
“The road to democracy is never easy,” he said.
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