The 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya may have inspired President Barack Obama to launch airstrikes in Iraq last week against jihadists affiliated with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL).
A New York Times article about the leadup to the military operations in Iraq published Friday included a quote from someone described as a “senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the White House’s internal deliberations” who said the Benghazi attacks were a key factor in the decisionmaking process.
“The situation near Erbil was becoming more dire than anyone expected,” the official said. “We didn’t want another Benghazi.”
Four Americans were killed in the Benghazi attacks including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens. In his public statements over the past few days, Obama has said the military operations in Iraq have two goals — preventing “genocide” against members of the Yazidi religious minority and protecting diplomatic personnel in the Iraqi city of Erbil.
According to the Times, Obama began discussing military operations when he heard Islamic State fighters were approaching Erbil because he was concerned about “American diplomats and business people” in the city. In a statement made on the White House’s south lawn Saturday, Obama cited his desire to protect Americans working at the U.S. Consulate, which is located in Erbil, when he said he could not commit to a specific timetable for military operations in Iraq.
“We’re not moving our embassy any time soon, we’re not moving our consulate any time soon,” said Obama.
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