Faced with a jihadist insurgency crisis in Iraq, President Barack Obama said Friday he would not be putting U.S. troops on the ground and that any other decisions will take days of planning.
Stocks remained in positive territory after Obama's announcement.
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The situation in Iraq has quickly devolved as Sunni fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have seized Mosul--Iraq's second-largest city. Now these militants are reportedly only 40 miles from Shiite-led capital Baghdad, as Iraqi troop defections limit a quick response from the army.
"Although events on the ground in Iraq have been happening very quickly, our ability to plan ... is going to take several days, so people should not anticipate that this is something that is going to happen overnight," Obama said in a nationally broadcast address at the White House.
Obama's overarching message was that he would prefer to rely on a political solution that involved Iraqi leaders making concerted efforts to overcome sectarian divides.
"The United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it is up to Iraq as a sovereign nation to solve their problems," he said.
Obama reflected on the U.S.'s decade of involvement in Iraq, saying that oil-rich country had been provided an opportunity "to claim their own future" at the expense of American soldiers and taxpayers, but its leaders had been unable to overcome sectarian disagreements that have long plagued the region. Because of this, the president said, the current crisis in Iraq "is not solely or even primarily a military challenge," but a situation calling for "intensive diplomacy."
To make matters even more complicated, Shiite Iranian's Revolutionary Guard units have reportedly also entered Iraq to help the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government fight the Sunni insurgents.
After Obama's speech, House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying that "both Congress and the Pentagon have been warning the White House about the worsening situation in Iraq, but for months it has done almost nothing." Boehner's statement also said that it is "long past time for the president to lay out a plan for how we can reverse the momentum and spread of terrorism in Iraq and a region that is critical to U.S. national interests."
If Obama were to take new action in Iraq, it would be a notable departure from his 2008 presidential campaign, in which he ran as a staunch opponent to the original invasion initiated by the George W. Bush administration. The authorization to use military force in Iraq passed by Congress in 2002 has not officially expired, so some political pundits have theorized that Obama could use this to justify quick action.
On Thursday, Boehner said Obama is "taking a nap" as terrorists capture increasingly more of the country.
Obama responded to Boehner's comments, saying the U.S. is prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened.
"I don't rule out anything" when it comes to helping Iraq deal with insurgents, said Obama.
—By CNBC.com, with wires.