By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Warning against a new U.S. war in Iraq, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday stood by President Barack Obama's decision to authorize targeted airstrikes to help defend Americans in Erbil, Iraq, and provide aid to a religious minority taking refuge in the Sinjar mountains.
"It's a complicated situation right now in Iraq and the president has taken very targeted actions to provide humanitarian relief that the Iraqi government requested, and to protect American citizens," Warren told reporters. "But like the president I believe that any solution in Iraq is going to be a negotiated solution, not a military solution. We do not want to be pulled into another war in Iraq."
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Renowned for its financing strategies and media savvy and feared for its brutality, a group of Sunni sectarian extremists that now calls itself The Islamic State has expanded out of war-torn Syria into Iraq, where it imposes taxes and kills people of other religions, according to news accounts.
On Thursday night, Obama announced he had authorized air strikes to protect American diplomats, civilians and military personnel in Erbil, and humanitarian air drops of food and water had already begun to assist Yezidis, a religious minority, who fled to the Sinjar mountains.
An American-led invasion of Iraq was launched in March 2003, starting a war that was divisive politically and costly. After Obama failed at reaching accord on a new status of force agreement with the Iraqi government, the U.S. stuck to an earlier timetable, withdrawing troops from the country by Dec. 31, 2011.
Warren said the actions announced by Obama will change the dynamic in the country, which has a Shi'ite led government and an independent Kurdish region in the north.
"It's a very complicated situation in Iraq. The president has now taken two very targeted actions, and those two actions will change the mix of what's happening in Iraq, and we'll have to just monitor it," Warren said.
Warren was in the State House for a closed-door meeting between state and federal officials and Jorge Carlos Fonseca, the president of Cape Verde.
Asked if she had a broader plan for dealing with the crisis in Iraq, Warren said, "Certainly these airstrikes are going to change the mix of what's going on, so we'll just have to monitor it literally day by day, hour by hour."
While calling for a negotiated solution, Warren said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a terrorist organization and the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists, while leaving open the possibility the U.S. could assist the Iraqi government negotiating with ISIS.
"The point is there has to be a negotiated solution in Iraq, but we don't negotiate with terrorists," Warren said. "This is partially a question of whether the U.S. government negotiates or whether we have the Iraqi government doing these negotiations, and how we help support them as they try to maintain an integrated country, and a country that better represents all of the people who live there."
A champion of those squeezed by big banks who toppled Scott Brown in a 2012 election for the seat, Warren is a favorite among liberals, and regularly disavows any plans to seek the president.
Warren said her caution not to entangle the United States in another military conflict in Iraq is a viewpoint shared across the country.
"I am concerned that none of us want to be pulled into a war in Iraq. I think that's clear across this country, and I feel very strongly about that," Warren said.