WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama warned Friday that no amount of US firepower could keep Iraq together if its political leaders did not disdain sectarianism and work to unite the country.
Obama told CNN, a day after announcing the dispatch of 300 special forces advisors to Iraq following a lightning advance by extreme Sunni radicals, that American sacrifices had given Iraq a chance at a stable democracy, but it had been squandered.
"There's no amount of American firepower that's going to be able to hold the country together," Obama said in an interview.
"I made that very clear to (Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-)Maliki and all of the other leadership inside of Iraq."
"We gave Iraq the chance to have an inclusive democracy. To work across sectarian lines to provide a better future for their children. And unfortunately what we've seen is a breakdown of trust," Obama said.
Washington has pointedly declined to endorse Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite, who is blamed here for failing to reach out to the Sunni community in the two-and-a-half years since US troops left, thus laying the conditions for the current crisis.
Obama is warning that only a new effort to frame an "inclusive" political system by Iraqi leaders will keep the country together and repel the challenge from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters who have seized several key cities in Iraq, including Mosul.
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