U.S. Scrambles to Help Iraq Fight Off Militants as Baghdad Is Threatened
The White House, confronted by an unexpected crisis on a battlefield it thought it had left behind, scrambled Thursday to reassure Iraq that it would help its beleaguered army fend off militants who have overrun much of the country and now threaten Baghdad.
Recognizing what one official described as an “urgent emergency situation,” President Obama and his aides moved on multiple fronts. A senior official said the president was actively considering American airstrikes against the militant groups. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. telephoned Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to express American support. And Pentagon officials briefed lawmakers about what one senator later described as a “grave situation.”
In his only public comments on Iraq, Mr. Obama said his national security staff was meeting around the clock. But the frenzy of activity has yet to produce a tangible American response — attesting to how swiftly this crisis has erupted and how it has left a stunned White House groping for a response.