Obama: New Iraq leader ‘right person’ for the job

President Obama expressed confidence that new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is "the right person" to lead the war-torn country's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during a bilateral meeting between the two leaders Wednesday in New York.

Obama said he was "very impressed with Prime Minister Abadi's vision" for the country and appreciated that he "has reached out systematically to all the peoples of Iraq.”


"We believe in a vision of Iraq that is inclusive in which Shia, Sunni, Kurd are able to come together ... and iron out their differences,” said the president.

“Obviously Iraq is under enormous threat at the moment from the organization that calls itself ISIL and ... we consider ISIL to be threat not only to Iraq, but to the region, to the world and to the United States," Obama said, using an alternative abbreviation for the terror group.

The administration has thrown its full support behind Abadi, whom the White House has described as the person best able to form a unity government in Baghdad to calm the sectarian strife that has gripped Iraq. Abadi is taking over for Nouri al-Maliki, who saw dwindling support both domestically and abroad after two terms leading Iraq.

Administration officials criticized al-Maliki for his sectarian impulses, saying his purge of Sunni Iraqis from top military and political posts allowed for the rise of the extremist terror group that has seized large swaths of northern Iraq.

Obama and Abadi met shortly after the president's address to the United Nations General Assembly, where he hailed the new Iraqi leader’s rise to power as an example of positive progress in the region.

"Iraq has come perilously close to plunging back into the abyss. The conflict has created a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists who inevitably export this violence," Obama said.

"The good news is, we also see signs that this tide could be reversed,” he continued. “We have a new, inclusive government in Baghdad; a new Iraqi prime minister welcomed by his neighbors."

Abadi thanked Obama "for respecting” Iraq’s “territory integrity and its sovereignty" with U.S. military operations in the country, and asked for assistance re-equipping the country’s armed forces.

The U.S. has sent military advisers to Iraq to aid local forces fighting ISIS and has targeted the group with airstrikes.