Statement on Iraq

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Kabul, Afghanistan
August 9, 2014

But first, I want to say a brief word about the situation in Iraq. President Obama acted expeditiously and appropriately to authorize targeted military action and to provide significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq at this very difficult time when it is vitally needed. The stakes for Iraq’s future could also not be more clear, and today’s crisis underscores them significantly. ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including the Yezedi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide. For anyone who needed a wakeup call, this is it. ISIL is not fighting on behalf of Sunnis. ISIL is not fighting for a stronger Iraq. ISIL is fighting to divide and destroy Iraq, and it’s fighting to create a state of its own brutal oppression, a place where chaos and brutality – ruthless brutality – governs.

Now with a gut-wrenching humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes and the roles of the starving and the sick growing daily and the potential of further executions – cold blooded executions – taking place because people are a minority huddled for safety on a mountaintop – because of that the United States, with President Obama’s decision, has made its decision that it must save these lives, and the world needs to join us in a condemnation of ISIL’s actions. President Obama has been unequivocal that he will do what is necessary and what is in our national interest to confront ISIL and its threat to the security of the region and to our own security in the long run.

It has been equally clear, as I have said in each of my visits to Iraq, in all my conversations with Iraqi and with regional leaders, that the only durable way to stop ISIL is for Iraq’s leaders themselves to unite and form a government that represents all of the people as rapidly as possible within their constitutional framework. They have moved very effectively so far to elect a speaker, to elect a president, and now the next step is to provide a prime minister, and we urge them to do so quickly.

I want to emphasize that in the President’s decision the safety and security of the men and women serving overseas for the United States is also a fundamental consideration, and I will remain very closely engaged with our Ambassador Stephen Beecroft, with our Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, and our team on the ground as we work to ensure that our personnel who are in Erbil and Baghdad and across Iraq are secure.