He suggested partitioning Iraq and Syria “might be the only solution” to defeat the jihadist group that has seized large portions of the country.
Lamenting the underlying conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis that brought the two communities to the brink of civil war in 2006, Gen. Odierno said the possibility of reconciling the two is “becoming more difficult by the day.”
Gen. Odierno stressed that the U.S. alone cannot take on the fight against the terrorist group, saying, “I absolutely believe the region has to solve this problem. The U.S. can’t solve this,” CNN reported.
He pushed back on Republican rhetoric blaming the Obama administration for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011, arguing that, at the time, the Iraqi parliament would not have approved a longer stay for American troops.
“I remind everybody, us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. That was always the plan,” Gen. Odierno said. “We had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty.”
GOP 2016 candidates have attacked President Obama for pulling out ofIraq too early, accusing him of setting up a void for the Islamic State to eventually fill.