ISIL was not in Iraq before Bush invasion, White House says
White House press secretary Josh Earnest says al-Qaeda and the ISIL terrorist group were not in Iraq before the 2003 invasion of the country by former US president George W. Bush.
“I think it’s backed up by extensive evidence that there are links between al-Qaeda in Iraq and ISIL. And the fact is al-Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to President Bush’s decision to commit significant American military resources on the ground in that country. And that is a historical fact,” he told reporters on Monday.
The remarks were made after Bush criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy during a closed-door gathering of Jewish donors over the weekend.
The former commander in chief said Obama withdrew American troops from Iraq too quickly in 2011 and paved the way for ISIL.
“In order to be an effective president… when you say something, you have to mean it,” Bush said at the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas. “You gotta kill ’em.”
The White House responded to the criticism and explained why Obama is in the Oval Office now.
“The fact that President Bush has a different perspective and a different philosophy when it comes to foreign policy is just a well-known difference. In the minds of many people, it’s the principal reason that President Obama is sitting in the Oval Office right now,” Earnest said.
Bush also urged Obama not to remove sanctions imposed against Iran over the country’s nuclear program following a possible final agreement.
The ex-president expressed skepticism about the Obama administration’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.
The US and its negotiating partners reached a framework nuclear agreement with Iran in Switzerland on April 2.
Tehran and the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – are currently working to draw up a final accord by the end of June.