Obama: ‘Breakdown In Order’ in Middle East

President Obama said that while “we are safer” there has been a “breakdown in order” in the Middle East in an interview broadcast on Monday’s “Today” on NBC.

“Yemen’s a tough situation. This is a country that’s always been fragile, the governments have never been strong. On the other hand, we’ve been continually able to maintain pressure on al Qaeda in that region…we feel confident that we can maintain that pressure” he stated. And “I believe we are safer. But obviously that doesn’t mean that we aren’t concerned about the breakdown in order in this region generally” he stated.

Obama also talked about ISIS, stating that claims that the group has gained ground were “not accurate. In Iraq what we’ve seen is both the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish forces continue to push back against ISIL. Those same critics that you suggest, I imagine would have us re-deploy tens of thousands of US troops.” After anchor Savannah Guthrie asked whether suggesting the president’s critics wanted to re-deploy troops was a strawman, he responded “it’s not a strawman…it is entirely possible for us to deploy 200 or 300,000 US troops. If we don’t have inside of Iraq, or inside of Syria, or inside of Afghanistan, both the capacity and the will of people to fight for themselves, then any gains that are made eventually dissipate. So, this takes longer, but it’s the right way to do things.” He added that “anything we could be doing, Savannah, we are doing.”

After President Obama was asked, “you were the president that was going to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that you are so focused on doing that and not getting the US entangled in another war that you are sometimes slow to react, that you’re passive,” he responded, “you repeated that comment three different ways, but the truth of the matter is that we are doing exactly what we should be doing to make sure that, while we’re pushing back ISIL, we are not creating another situation in which we are deploying massive numbers of US troops, and those who want us to shoot first and aim later, typically get this country into really bad situations.”

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