1:18 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi everyone.
MS. PSAKI: I just have one item for all of you at the top. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Davutoglu spoke by phone this morning. They discussed their mutual concern about the deteriorating security situation in Mosul and ISIL’s despicable attack on the Turkish consulate, which we condemn in the strongest terms. We join Turkey and the international community in calling for the immediate release of Turkey’s kidnapped diplomatic personnel. The security reiterated the United States commitment to working with the Iraqi Government and leaders across Iraq to support a unified approach against ISIL’s continued aggression. We are in touch with the governments of Turkey and Iraq, and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re referring to deteriorating over the last several days, which, to your point, there’s no question that has been the case.
QUESTION: Okay. And have there been any discussions in the past – since you last briefed between people here and the Iraqi authorities on the situation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I do have an update. As you may know, Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk is on the ground. The Secretary spoke with him this morning, and naturally he – the Secretary and other senior officials here are in close touch with him on the ground.
Since he has been there – I should say just over the last 48 hours – he has met or spoken with Prime Minister Maliki, Speaker Nujaifi, KRG Prime Minister Barzani, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Talabani, Vice President Khuzai, Governor Karim of Kirkuk, Governor – I mentioned, I think I mentioned Governor – sorry, Governor Nujaifi. I had already mentioned Speaker Nujaifi – Governor Dulaimi of Anbar, National Security Advisor Fayyad, Deputy Prime Minister Mutlaq, Iraqi Prime Minister’s Advisor Tarik Najm, Chief of Staff to President Barzani Fuad Hussein, former Deputy Secretary General of the PUK Barham Salih, tribal sheikhs, members of parliament, and many others, including members – including the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Iraq. And the point – the reason I – somebody asked that yesterday, so I wanted to give an extensive overview.
QUESTION: Well, that’s pretty extensive. Has he had any time to sleep or eat? That seems like a lot of people to see in 24 – in 48 hours.
MS. PSAKI: I can – in 48 hours. I can assure you – I was on an email with him at something like 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. his time last night, so I don’t know that he’s sleeping very much. But the Secretary, when he spoke with him this morning, received an update on all of those conversations.
QUESTION: Okay. But all those conversations were between McGurk and the Iraqis, correct?
MS. PSAKI: That is right.
QUESTION: Okay. But the Secretary himself or Deputy Secretary Burns or anyone else? No one?
MS. PSAKI: As you know, Deputy Secretary Burns is returning from Vienna.
MS. PSAKI: The Secretary has received updates from Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk.
QUESTION: There are reports coming just now that militants are heading towards Baghdad. Do you know anything about that?
MS. PSAKI: I – again, it’s a very fluid situation on the ground, as we all have been talking about. We are of course very concerned about the deteriorating security situation. I don’t have any confirmation of those reports.
QUESTION: How about – can we go to Tikrit? Tikrit, as I understand it, has been overrun already, and the largest oil refinery in Iraq is also apparently under threat by ISIL forces. Are you concerned about the threat to oil flows that may result if oil installations are taken over, one, and two – well, I’ll just leave it at that, and then I’ve got another one.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, on the oil refinery, there have been conflicting reports. Our understanding at this point is that the refinery remains in control of the Government of Iraq. Certainly, we would be concerned, as we have been, about a range of incidents over the last several days if that were to change. In terms of Tikrit, we’ve also seen reports as you mentioned, and that – of course, we’re continuing to look into the situation on the ground, but we do not have confirmation of that at this point.
QUESTION: And do you think – well, two questions. One is: Other than DAS McGurk talking to a great many people there, is the U.S. Government considering any type of concrete action to help the current Iraqi Government regain control of its territory?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve expedited, as you know, shipments of military equipment since the beginning of the year. We’ve ramped up training of Iraqi security forces and worked intensively to help Iraq implement a holistic approach. As you noted, Arshad, the situation is certainly very grave on the ground. We are working with Iraqi leaders from across the country to support a coordinated response. You can expect that we will provide additional assistance to the Iraqi Government to combat the threat from ISIL, but I’m not in a position to outline that further at this point.
QUESTION: You had about a decade, though, to train the Iraqi security forces between the U.S. invasion and – it’s more than a decade now. What makes you think ramping up the training since the start of the year is going to do much in this circumstance?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a number of components. So one of the pieces that we’ve been very focused on in our diplomatic conversations is the need for a more unified approach from a range of parties in Iraq. We are encouraged to see the calls for national unity from Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum. We think that presents a strong, unified front. We also support the steps taken between the federal government and the KRG to cooperate on a security plan that will enhance the Iraqi army’s ability to hold positions and confront this ISIL aggression.
And again this is – obviously, as we’ve stated in here many times and as our statement yesterday indicated, we’re clearly very concerned about the deteriorating security situation. Iraq and the Government of Iraq remains a crucial partner in our fight against terrorism, and we will continue to work with them in a range of capacities moving forward.
QUESTION: Was it – I’m well aware that the Iraqi Government and the United States could not come to agreement on a SOFA for continued – the continued presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. And I realize that absent such an agreement, you couldn’t keep your forces there. Was it, however, a mistake not to have tried harder to maintain a residual force that might have helped the various Iraqi parties, political parties, work more cohesively with one another? Do you think it was the right – simply stated, was it the right thing to pull everybody out, as happened?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you noted, Arshad, there was a mutual decision between the Government of Iraq and the United States that it was time to pull our troops home. I’m not going to look back and speculate on what would have been different had things been different at the time. They obviously were not.
QUESTION: Jen – sorry, excuse me. Can I --
QUESTION: Well, wait. Can I follow up on that particular point --
MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- on that particular point? I mean, how can you not look back and say, well, maybe the pullout could have been organized a bit differently? Did we have enough political engagement? Were there – was there enough training of the Iraqis? I mean, there’s no looking back whatsoever to say --
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve clearly, Elise, increased that over the last several months because we’ve seen a need for that on the ground. And we’re focused right now on how we can assist the government at this point in time during what is a very challenging security situation on the ground, and that’s where we’re going to exert our efforts.
QUESTION: Well, don’t you think, though, that, like, you can apply this example also to Syria in terms of that the situation is much more grave now as you consider providing additional support to the rebels than had you had done it two years ago when these discussions first surmised. And in Iraq in particular, like, you’ve seen what was happening in Iraq for – the violence has been steadily increasing for some time, and now you’re kind of a little bit late to the game, don’t you think?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would argue with that. I think in Syria, it’s entirely different for a range of reasons, including the fact that we have not had troops on the ground and there’s never been a consideration to do that. So we’re not talking about a similar situation. They’re obviously linked because of the impact of Syria on the violence in Iraq, and that is a contributing factor that we think has been – has had a major impact on what we’re seeing.
QUESTION: I’m just saying, though, that isn’t there a kind of recognition that you need to be more proactive instead of crisis – responding to these various crises as they’re --
MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly --
QUESTION: -- after it’s a little bit too little too late?
MS. PSAKI: I would disagree with that. The steps that we’ve taken over the last several months to expedite the support that we are providing was in advance of obviously the events that have occurred over the last couple of days. We have a strong diplomatic presence on the ground. We’re constantly evaluating what – how we can best assist, how we can best help prepare to – and partner with the Iraqis to combat these threats from terrorists, and that will continue.
QUESTION: Then why not deploy something that is likely to change the situation on the ground like drones? Since we know their address, we know the address of Daeesh, the ISIL in Iraq. We know where they are. We know where they are moving – their convoys, whatever, their movement is well known. And this is something that can really change things on the ground. Why not? I mean, this is something that --
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, as I mentioned --
QUESTION: -- you continue to do in Pakistan and in Afghanistan and in Yemen.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t discuss operational details along those lines, as you know. I will say, as I noted, you can expect we will increase our assistance. I have nothing I can outline further on that front at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. Because as it seems, the Iraqi army or the Iraqi security forces aren’t able to hold onto what they have. For instance, yesterday there was a helicopter that was overcome by Daeesh, by the ISIL.
MS. PSAKI: I know you asked me about that yesterday. I still don’t at this point have confirmation of those details you mentioned.
QUESTION: Okay. And also, we heard that the central government has requested the aid of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish army or the Kurdish militia, to going to after these bad guys. Will you assist the Peshmerga, which – they have very close relations with the U.S. military. Would you --
MS. PSAKI: I think I just noted a few minutes ago, Said, so I’d point you to this, that we support the steps taken by the Iraqi federal government and the KRG in their efforts to cooperate on a security plan. And that has, as you know, been difficult in the past, so that we see that as a positive step.
QUESTION: Are you also – I mean, the flipside of that – would that help solidify the sort of – the separation in Iraq along ethnic lines, like the KRG may become an independent country?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we – you know where we stand on that. We are encouraged by calls for national unity. The threat from ISIL and the terrorists in Iraq is a challenge for all of the people as well as the region.
QUESTION: And my final question on national unity: Do you have faith – I mean, this question was asked to you yesterday. Do you have faith that Mr. Maliki can lead a national unity effort that can be crowned with success?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as I noted yesterday – and our position hasn’t changed – there’s more that Prime Minister Maliki can do. There’s more that many leaders can do. We’re encouraged by calls for national unity and we think that is the right step forward.
QUESTION: In the additional steps – and I understand you couldn’t --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- further detail them. But can you rule out, can you tell us whether or not the United States is giving any consideration whatsoever to the deployment of any ground troops in Iraq or the Iraqi Government to ask for such?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that consideration. Otherwise, I’m not going to speculate on any other details of assistance.
QUESTION: Do you have a handle, Jen, on how much of the stuff that was promised earlier this year actually arrived? And if you do, or even if you don’t, do you have an idea of how much materiel – how much equipment and stuff – has been seized by ISIL, aside from the helicopter which you said you didn’t – you weren’t aware of?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I gave an outline yesterday about --
QUESTION: Did you?
MS. PSAKI: -- the assistance that we’ve been able to move forward on. In terms of your question about what has been seized, we know, obviously, there was a structural breakdown here. The Government of Iraq is conducting an investigation. We’re looking into what equipment or materials they may have seized.
QUESTION: So you don’t --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that assessment at this point in time.
QUESTION: You don’t yet. I mean, there are reports that they include F-16s, they include jets, fighter jets, which it’s unclear whether anyone in the ISIL would be able to fly them or use them. But would you consider bombing this stuff, to destroy it so that it can’t --
MS. PSAKI: Again, since we don’t yet have an assessment, I just don’t want to speculate on what steps we may or may not take.
QUESTION: Jen --
QUESTION: Jen, I wonder if we could have one more --
MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, we have a couple of other people. So let’s just – go ahead, Michel.
QUESTION: Were you able to confirm the news stories that I asked about yesterday about the helicopters?
MS. PSAKI: No. I just noted to Said I have not confirmed that, no.
QUESTION: Okay. Today Iraqi security officials have said that ISIL has captured hundreds of tanks and ammunitions in Salah al-Din province. Do you have any information about this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as I just noted to Matt, clearly the situation on the ground is very murky and we are trying to obtain confirmation on what assets ISIL may have obtained on the ground.
QUESTION: And the news stories have said, too, that former vice president during Saddam era, Izzat Duri, has showed up in Mosul today. Do you have any idea about this?
MS. PSAKI: I have not – I have no confirmation of those reports.
QUESTION: And one more for me. Turkey has called the NATO today for an urgent meeting after the kidnapping of its diplomats in Mosul. Are you aware of such a meeting? And what can we expect from --
MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Turks on that. Clearly the United States, as is evidenced by the Secretary’s call to the foreign minister this morning, shares the concern about the capturing of the diplomats, and he expressed that. We condemn, of course, those actions and hope that they will be freed.
QUESTION: If there is any particular kind of action on the border, particularly by ISIL and given the location of where everybody is, is this something that NATO would take an interest in and as Turkey is a NATO ally? Would they consider this an Article 5 consideration, perhaps?
MS. PSAKI: It’s a good question, Elise. I mean, I would clearly point you to NATO. I’m not sure what they would be considering at this time. They may have spoken to that. I’m not aware – I haven’t seen comments from them on that point.
QUESTION: Did Secretary Kerry and the Turkish foreign minister discuss the NATO meeting or not?
MS. PSAKI: They discussed what I outlined at the top of the briefing.
QUESTION: Is there any more detail on the specific meeting? What exactly Turkey is asking for from the U.S. at this moment?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you to Turkey on that question, and we’ll let them speak for what their needs are. Obviously, we remain concerned about the detainment of the diplomats. We all share a concern about the security situation. This is not just a challenge for the people of Iraq but for the people of the region, and these events are clearly an example of that.
QUESTION: According to reports, Turkish prime minister called the Vice President Biden. Do you have any readout on that meeting?
MS. PSAKI: I do not. I would point you to the Vice President’s office on --
QUESTION: Usually Prime Minister Erdogan talks to President Obama this kind of situation. Do you know why the President is not available today?
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t speculate on that. I don’t even know if what you stated is correct. I would point you to the White House on any calls he has planned for today.
QUESTION: On this hostages – hostage crisis, it looks like for the last number of days ISIL, I-S-I-L, forces have been mounting and closing into Mosul. Have you been contact the Turkish Government or Mosul and warning them? Did you have any kind of advance communication with the Turkish counterparts?
MS. PSAKI: About the plans to detain our diplomats?
QUESTION: That, or impending invasion of the ISIL forces of Mosul.
MS. PSAKI: Well, as I think you would expect, we remain in close touch with our NATO allies and allies around the world, including Turkey, in situations as dire as the security situation on the ground in Mosul. And this was no different. I’m not aware of any other warning we would have been able to provide.
QUESTION: And lastly, it seems today number of reports coming out that the YPG forces of the Kurds are right now moving to Mosul to clash or resist with the ISIL. Do you have any information on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, the Kurdish Regional Government is in cooperation with the federal government in Iraq about working together to address the security situation, so I’d point you to them on details of their plans.
QUESTION: You called it a deteriorating security situation. Isn’t it much more grave than that? I mean, you have a group that al-Qaida regards as more extreme than themselves taking over large chunks of Iraq. And the billions of dollars America has spent on training these forces, they seem to have simply disappeared in the sand. Is not this more a case of being a total failure of Western policy in Iraq?
MS. PSAKI: I would strongly disagree with that. We’re talking about events over the last couple of days that I think we’ve been very clear about how strong our concerns are, about the deteriorating situation in Mosul. That has not changed. We’ve been as – we sent our deputy assistant secretary, one of our foremost experts on Iraq, there over the weekend to assist in every capacity possible. We’re looking to increase our support for – to the Iraqi Government. So I think all of those are clear signals about how concerned we are and how committed we are to our partners in Iraq.
QUESTION: But it’s a phrase you could have used at any point in previous years. This is much more serious than previous deteriorating security situations, surely.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I’ve spoken to how concerned we are, so I don’t think there should be a question about that.
QUESTION: Okay, just to kind of bring Syria back in, okay?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So you’re helping the Iraqi Government. You see what a grave concern this is as far as Iraq is concerned, and you’re giving the Iraqi Government the support it needs to go after these guys.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But you’re not making a distinction, are you, between the group’s activities in Iraq and the group’s activities in Syria? I mean, they’re just as deadly to the Syrian people as the Iraqi people, and they’re going back and forth across the border. So how do you reconcile what you’re doing with Iraq with the kind of cautious, understandably but recognizably cautious approach that you’re taking towards helping the rebels go after – or yourself going after ISIL in Syria?
MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re entirely different situations.
MS. PSAKI: And what we said yesterday – and I would point you to the statement we put out – was that the situation in Syria has been an enormous contributing factor to what we’re seeing in terms of --
QUESTION: No doubt.
MS. PSAKI: -- the security situation in Iraq. There’s no doubt about that.
QUESTION: No doubt.
MS. PSAKI: Obviously the Government of Iraq has been a partner of ours on addressing terrorism for several years now. We know there have been ups and downs in that; there’s no question about that. But we remain committed to that effort and we will continue to be.
The situation in Syria – you’re talking about the Government of Syria, which has obviously been most responsible for inflicting terror on their own people. And we have worked and taken every step possible to bolster and support the rebels, whether that’s strengthening them politically, increasing our assistance. You heard the Secretary of State say over the weekend in an interview with CNN about our support for legislation, language that’s currently working its way through the Senate that would provide additional assistance to the vetted members of the armed opposition. They’re different situations, and we deal with them differently because that is what we feel is the most responsible approach.
QUESTION: Well, they’re different situations in the case of how you aid one and not the other, but it is the same situation, because as you, their activities in Syria are affecting their activities in Iraq and vice-versa. So can you say unequivocally now that you realize that you’re going to need to up arming and training and equipping these rebels, not necessarily only to go after the regime – which I know you want to get rid of the regime – but specifically to go after these ISIL guys?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve long been concerned about the impact of extremists, including from ISIL and other groups that have a presence in Syria. When the President gave his speech at West Point last week, I think – the week before, one of the pieces he talked quite a bit about is the changing threat of terrorism, and that’s why he talked about a $5 billion counterterrorism fund that would assist countries and threats in places like Iraq and places like neighboring countries around Syria, because we’ve known that this threat was one that we would – that we have been long concerned about.
QUESTION: But if you’re going to go after ISIL in Iraq through your support for the Iraqi Government, that can’t be in a vacuum, right? I mean, you need to go after these guys in Iraq and in Syria, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Certainly. But I think we’ve been consistently – we’ve consistently said that the threat of terrorism is a concern for us in Syria. It has been as – but we also need to do – address that at the same time while addressing a path forward for a transitional governing body because of the threats posed by the government.
QUESTION: But you agree that the same ISIL that is fighting the Syrian Government is the same one that is fighting the Iraqi Government, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are different coalitions and different factions, as you know, Said.
QUESTION: They claim to be one and the same. They claim to be one and the same.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been many different conflicting reports about that over the course of months, as you know. But regardless, any threat – any terrorist threat – there are many that, unfortunately, exist in that particular region – are of concern to us, and that’s why we are upping our focus on the changing threat – changing threats that we’re facing today.
QUESTION: And today, Bashar al-Assad said that he’s willing to go after them to aid the Iraqi Government. Would you welcome that?
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve been pretty clear over time, Said, that Assad and the horrific acts that he’s taken against his own people is a concern we have – we continue to have.
QUESTION: So – yes. When do you expect the Senate to vote on the new legislation to aid the Syrian opposition?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the NDAA, so beyond that there are obviously additional legislative steps that would need to be taken.
QUESTION: Why is that? It wasn’t a Senate – Armed Services?
MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. I’m – you’re right. Senate Armed Services.
QUESTION: What – right. But is that what this all is dependent on? I mean, that could take months. And in fact, unless something happened while we were away last week, you don’t even have congressional – even a signal that they’re going to sign off on this $5 billion counterterrorism program. Is that what you’re waiting for to give the Iraqis new assistance?
MS. PSAKI: No. I wasn’t stating that at all.
QUESTION: Oh. Okay.
MS. PSAKI: Elise was asking me about Syria, and that’s a separate question.
QUESTION: Right. Well, you said – I think you said that the countries like Iraq, in relation to the 5 billion --
MS. PSAKI: Well, the counterterrorism fund --
QUESTION: -- but we’re talking about --
MS. PSAKI: -- is separate from the Levin language.
QUESTION: Understood. But I just want to make sure that the stuff that you are – the additional assistance that you say that you’re – you intend to send to the Iraqis to deal with this immediate threat, which is post-immediate, actually --
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: I mean, it’s pretty bad. It’s worse than deteriorating, I think. That is not contingent on any kind of congressional action, is it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we’re considering a range of options, so I don’t know yet what it will be. But there are a range of resources --
QUESTION: But it’s outside of the 5 billion for counterterrorism.
MS. PSAKI: Yes. It’s not linked to that. No.
QUESTION: Just one more back on ISIL. Do you have any kind of diplomatic solution to this ISIL problem in Mosul?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think one is the importance of unity among the different factions of the Iraqi Government in combatting the threat. And that has not been the case for some time. We feel that will certainly strengthen their ability to fight terrorism and the common threat they face.
QUESTION: So you don’t see any kind of diplomatic track with the ISIL forces, right?
MS. PSAKI: Negotiations with them?
MS. PSAKI: I think our focus right now is on strengthening and unifying the different factions of the Iraqi Government to take on the terrorists and the threats they pose.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government have any kind of military planning at this moment to intervene the situation?
MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve already outlined everything I can say on that front.
QUESTION: But you mentioned several times the unity of the Iraqi Government, and right now that you’re happy with that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied, but we were encouraged by calls for national unity. We’re encouraged by efforts for the KRG to work with the Iraqi federal government on security – addressing the security challenges. We have to see what happens over the coming days.
QUESTION: Right, okay. But so far they’re just calls. I mean, you’ve – well, maybe you are encouraged. I – you’re saying --
MS. PSAKI: They’ve started to cooperate on the security front.
QUESTION: But are you encouraged with the results thus far?
MS. PSAKI: It’s just --
QUESTION: I mean, it seems to be more running away.
MS. PSAKI: It’s just begun, Matt. It’s just begun.
QUESTION: Okay. And then you also said several times that Iraq is a government – Iraq and the Government of Iraq are a crucial partner in the fight against – counterterrorism, and you’re convinced that that still remains the case when there are armed forces that you – this country and others spent billions and billions of dollars training and equipping are fleeing and abandoning their – abandoning all this equipment to the ISIL. That this still --
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Government of Iraq has called for an investigation of that. Clearly, the situation is murky on the ground and --
QUESTION: Right, but --
MS. PSAKI: -- we’ll see what we learn from that process.
QUESTION: Right. But the Government of Iraq calling for an investigation into it is different than the Government of Iraq actually being a partner or at least a reasonable, a viable partner in the fight when – I mean, it’s not like Maliki is going to strap on a gun and go out there himself and – or drive a tank, I don’t think. He – I mean, it’s his military. It’s the Iraqi Government’s military combined with maybe the Kurds who are going to do this. And you’re saying that you still believe, given the events of the last several days, that the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi army are a crucial or are a viable partner?
MS. PSAKI: Well, they have been an important partner over the course of several years, Matt.
QUESTION: Jen --
QUESTION: And remain so, is that what you’re saying?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: To what extent do you think Prime Minister Maliki is responsible for what we are viewing in Iraq today?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to give an evaluation of that. What I will say is that there have been a range of security challenges that have been posed on the ground. We agree that all Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Maliki can do more to address unresolved issues there to better meet the needs of the Iraqi people. However, the threat to Iraq’s stability right now is from ISIL. They have an ideology that has little to do with Iraqi domestic politics. It has to do with taking territory and terrorizing the Iraqi people. And so there’s more that can be done, including taking a more unified approach to the challenges and the threats of terrorism that they face. And we are closely engaged with them on those efforts.
QUESTION: But he’s been prime minister since eight years, and this is the results of the eight years now.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s no question there have been challenging times, including the terrible security situation that we’re seeing on the ground now. But we remain committed to working with the Iraqi Government, providing them assistance that we can, and seeing if we can move forward.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up.
QUESTION: And last one for me --
QUESTION: Can I follow up? Or – go ahead.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’d encourage them to play a more constructive role, but I don’t have any predictions of what role they may or may not play.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Michel was implicitly getting to are the longstanding and fairly well documented accustations that Prime Minister Maliki has not governed in a particularly inclusive manner, has in fact alienated large portions of the minorities – notably the Sunnis – within his own country. And that one thing that has fueled what now appears to be full-fledged insurgency against his government is that very failure to govern inclusively. You don’t think that? You think it’s just a security problem and his governance --
MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not, and I didn’t state it was just a security problem. And we’ve expressed in the past our concerns about the lack of inclusivity. We have encouraged that publicly as well as privately. That’s part of the strong message that we have been sending, that Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk has been expressing not just on this visit but on several over the course of the last few months. That’s why I emphasized the importance of the call for national unity. Does that fix every – heal every issue from the past? No. But is it an encouraging step moving forward? It could be.
QUESTION: Would you say --
QUESTION: Sorry, one point on this one. Why you cannot say that he is responsible for the situation?
MS. PSAKI: Because I think the situation, that those responsible for the situation, are the terrorists from ISIL.
QUESTION: Would you say, Jen, that the U.S. has been completely caught by surprise by the events on the ground? That you didn’t see the offensive of the ISIL coming?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to detail further what we were watching over the course of weeks, as I wouldn’t normally in any case. Clearly, we’ve been concerned over the course of the last several months about incidents of violence, and that’s one of the reasons that we have increased our support in a range of capacities. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to peel back for you.
QUESTION: So you were not surprised by the strength and the speed of the offensive?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m just not going to outline any road – what’s happening on the ground.
QUESTION: Jen, I’m baffled, because yesterday you and the White House said this was extremely serious; it could threaten the entire region. Today these reports of U.S.-supplied military hardware --
MS. PSAKI: I’ve said that again today.
QUESTION: Well, today you’re saying it’s a deteriorating security situation, which sounds less serious.
MS. PSAKI: No, please don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve said that – I’ve said that, but I’ve also said that we’re extremely concerned about the horrific situation on the ground.
QUESTION: Has it become more serious today?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we track it every day. I’m not going to do a day-by-day evaluation. But obviously, we’re deeply concerned. We remain concerned about the deteriorating situation on the ground. That’s why we’re working so closely with the government, whether it’s on the political track or taking steps to increase assistance.
QUESTION: And do you think Baghdad is under threat from ISIL?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we – as I said yesterday but remains the case today, this is not just a threat to a particular region. It is to the people of Iraq and to the entire region, including surrounding countries.
QUESTION: Surely the situation is more grave today, because they have overtaken Tikrit, they are moving towards Samarra that really launched the civil war back in 2006, they’re about to attack the holy shrine there. So the situation is far more grave today --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ve said it’s deteriorating.
QUESTION: -- than it was.
MS. PSAKI: That’s what “deteriorating” means.
Do we have any more on Iraq?
QUESTION: Are you --
MS. PSAKI: Oh. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Are you surprised at least the collapse of the Iraqi army after decades and billions of dollars of U.S. investment? Are you surprised by that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as I’ve noted a few times here, we’ve been concerned about the growing threat of terrorism in Iraq and other parts of the region. We talked about that in our terrorism reports that we issue every single year. And actually, I brought a copy because I wanted to make this point.
In here, we talk about the threat of ISIL – the threat to Syria, the threat to Iraq. This is something we’ve been closely tracking and we’ve been taking steps to address. So I want to just remind you that because this is on the front page of the news, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been closely watching, closely working with the Iraqi Government, concerned about what we’ve been seeing on the ground for some time now.
QUESTION: So that means you are not surprised by collapse of the Iraqi military? Is that what we are supposed to --
MS. PSAKI: Again, I mentioned already – and I know a couple of people have asked the same question, which is that we – the Iraqi Government is looking into what happened on the ground. Obviously there have been ups and downs over the course of the last several years. Iraq remains an important partner in addressing terrorism, and that continues to be the case.
Go ahead, Elise.
QUESTION: That’s exactly what you said; you have been working on this for several months. It’s not kind of – you didn’t just wake up to it today. You have been --
MS. PSAKI: The threat of ISIL? Yes, absolutely.
QUESTION: Well, no – but you’ve been trying to help the Iraqi Government and support them. Clearly it’s not enough, and the fact that not only were they growing in strength, but now they’re taking over Iraqi towns. So the question is what are – are you just going to continue to provide support to the Iraqi Government? Is there any possible chance at all that the U.S. may be willing to consider military measures of its own?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we are continuing to consider ways to help the Iraqis. I don’t have anything further to outline than that at this point.
QUESTION: I’m sorry I’m like late.
MS. PSAKI: That’s okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: So maybe you mentioned on that part that the Turkish Government requested a meeting with NATO on this?
QUESTION: No, we haven’t talked about that at all. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, NATO meeting, it was – I mean, just --
MS. PSAKI: I addressed that and I pointed everyone to Turkey and the NATO – and to NATO.
QUESTION: Jen, one last question for me: Are you concerned about the sophisticated arms that you have delivered to the Iraqi military?
MS. PSAKI: In terms of what could be in the hands of others?
QUESTION: Do you think U.S. arms are in their hands?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I stated I think a little bit earlier in the briefing that that is a situation we’re looking closely into to assess what they might have their hands on. Of course we would be concerned if they did – they do.
Do we have any more on Iraq, or should we move on? Okay. Scott.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does the United States have a view on the new assembly law and its use in the sentencing of 25, including Alaa Abdel Fattah, for their participation in what they say was a peaceful demonstration?
MS. PSAKI: We share the view of Egyptian civil society representatives that this law, which imposes restrictions on Egypt’s ability to assemble peacefully and express their views, does not meet international standards and will not move Egypt’s democratic transition forward. And as is the case in any of these circumstances, we have – we will continue to express that to the relevant officials in Egypt.
Go ahead in the back.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Today the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Modi, saying that he had a good meeting and he looks forward to resolving the outstanding matters peacefully and in harmony. Are you expecting reciprocities from New Delhi on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we encourage dialogue between India and Pakistan. We feel that’s a positive step. I would point you to New Delhi and what their plans are moving forward. As you know, there was – there have been some steps in recent weeks that we’ve been encouraged by.
QUESTION: I mean, this is the second big kind of confidence-building step by the Pakistani prime minister, but we have not seen much from the other side. Are you hoping that they will be able to resume the peace process shortly?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we believe dialogue is an important step in the process between India and Pakistan, and we certainly encourage that at every opportunity.
QUESTION: And also on Karachi now, from the events that unfolded at Karachi Airport, it seems that Pakistani forces had the ability to beat back the terrorists, but they need some support on intelligence gathering and detecting weapons. You have said from this podium that U.S. has been helping Pakistan to build its capacity to fight them.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we – in this particular case, we have offered forensics and investigative assistance to the relevant Pakistani authorities investigating Monday’s heinous crime. We have not – Pakistan has not yet responded to that offer, but it remains on the table.
QUESTION: And do you think the statement today by Uzbek Islamic Movement that their people carried out these attacks, does this add a new dimension to the Pakistani fight against TTP?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you are familiar with our commitment to being a partner with Pakistan and fighting the threat of violent extremism, including from TTP, and how seriously we take that. You also know, I’m sure, that TTP is a designated foreign terrorist organization and there are a range of steps the United States has taken in that regard. Certainly, we don’t feel that that is a – those remarks are productive.
QUESTION: I had --
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Lalit.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And following her trip, there are reports in Indian media about the strategic dialogue taking place in Washington in the month of August. Do you have a confirmed date now?
MS. PSAKI: We don’t yet have a confirmed date. I know there have also been reports of when a trip by Mr. Modi will take place. We don’t have a confirmed date of that either. Obviously we’re working through that with authorities in India.
QUESTION: And how was --
QUESTION: Can I follow up with that, a quick follow-up?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead, Goyal.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam. One, as far as Madam Nisha Biswal’s visit and other high-level visits are concerned, would you think that big explosions are coming between the two countries as far as economic relations are concerned, trade and – I’ve been hearing that so much visits coming between the U.S. and the Indian – new Indian Government.
MS. PSAKI: You are right. Trade and our economic partnership is an incredibly important part of our relationship, and I expect that will continue.
Should we go to a new topic?
QUESTION: And one more, just quickly --
MS. PSAKI: I think we have to go a new topic just to get through them. Go ahead, Said.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Today during Knesset hearing, the Deputy Minister for National Security Affairs – Israeli National Security Affairs – Daniel Ayalon said that – during the hearing, he said that the government will continue to demolish Palestinian home in Area C and force people to leave the area. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven’t seen his specific testimony. We had quite a few U.S. officials testifying ourselves today, so I focus more time on that. So I can’t speak to those. You know how concerned we are about threatening language along those lines or actions along what you described.
QUESTION: But you certainly would be concerned about Israel closing Area C completely to military operations and so on?
MS. PSAKI: Well, why don’t I take a look, Said, and see – take a look at the concepts of what was said.
QUESTION: Again – and one last thing on this issue: Do you have anything to add on the Arab follow-up committee that is coming to meet, I guess, with Secretary Kerry sometime at the end of this month? Do you have anything on this?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we have a confirmation of a meeting scheduled. Again, obviously, we have met with them several times and will continue to, and – but I don’t have any confirmation of an upcoming meeting at this point in time.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On that, did you – not on the meeting, but did you have anything to say about this new rocket attack into Israel from Gaza?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we condemn all rocket fire from Gaza. It is unprovoked aggression against civilian targets and is totally unacceptable. We welcome President Abbas’s prompt and outspoken condemnation of this attack. We note that he has demanded that all the Palestinian factions remain committed to the ceasefire agreement that was signed in Cairo in 2012, and we expect the Palestinian Authority will do everything in its power to prevent attacks into Gaza – from Gaza into Israel. But we acknowledge the reality that Hamas currently controls Gaza.
QUESTION: Well, okay. So the Israelis say that President Abbas, since the unity government has been formed, that he bears responsibility for not disarming this or not preventing this attack and attacks of its kind. Do you agree that President Abbas shares – or it is his responsibility to do that, and that he is – the Israelis could look at him and say this is his fault?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe that President Abbas must do all in his power to prevent deterioration in the security situation, but we would also note that he has upheld his responsibility to maintain security coordination with Israel and he has publicly stressed his commitment to do that. And so I think he has made every effort to be – continue to be a partner in this regard.
QUESTION: So this doesn’t have any – this attack doesn’t have anything – won’t have any bearing on your decision to work with the unity government and continue to provide assistance to it?
MS. PSAKI: It does not. Obviously, we’re concerned about it and we condemn it in the strongest terms. But his – President Abbas’s ability to impact these type of attacks is really severely limited at this point in time.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but isn’t that part of the – I mean, that’s part of the entire problem with agreeing to go along and work with a government, is it not? I mean, the Israelis said the whole time that these attacks are going to continue. If you recognize that his ability is extremely limited to prevent this kind of thing, for there to be security cooperation between him, his government, and the Israelis, how is it that you made the leap to go ahead and say, “All right, this is a government that we can do business with?”
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is one – this was the creation of an interim technocratic government. Obviously, at some point there will be elections. This is an interim period. As we’ve long stated, we’ll – we’re continuing assistance if we – but we’ll be watching closely and if something changes, so will – we’ll act accordingly. But nothing --
QUESTION: So how many more rocket attacks do there have to be before you decide that it’s – that we made a mistake?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Matt, you’re familiar, I’m sure, with what the criteria are for delivering assistance. While we’re very concerned about these rocket attacks and we feel President Abbas needs to do everything possible to prevent them, we understand that his ability to do that is severely limited at this point in time.
QUESTION: So but then I don’t understand why – I can’t – I mean, if you think that this guy doesn’t have control over everyone who is either a member of or is backing his unity government, why would you do business with it? Why would you give it money? I mean, if you were one part of – I don’t know, one segment of the Israeli society, political society or otherwise, you could, if you hold Abbas responsible for this attack, hold the United States, in a sense, responsible for this attack because you guys are just continuing to support the unity government.
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there are no members of Hamas in the technocratic unity government – technocratic government, I should call it, which is the accurate --
MS. PSAKI: -- term for it. That is one of our criteria for continuing to provide assistance. We’ll be watching closely over the course of the coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: So even though it is backed by Hamas and you hold Hamas responsible for this rocket attack today, that – you don’t see a connection? No?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting we don’t understand the connection, Matt. But again, this is a case where President Abbas strongly condemned these actions. We think he should do everything possible to prevent them from happening and to call for and provoke unity among these groups. But we understand at this point in time there’s very little that he can do to prevent them.
QUESTION: Why is it in your interest to continue to deal with the interim government notwithstanding this rocket attack?
MS. PSAKI: Because the Palestinian people and our relationship with the Palestinian Authority is an important relationship to the United States. We continue to believe that support to them is something that is important to the United States.
QUESTION: But if Hamas feels that it can shoot rockets from Gaza into Israel with impunity and this has no effect whatsoever, for example, on its ability to form a unity government with the PA, even if there are no Hamas members in the actual government – you have a disincentive that you could use here, which would be to stop dealing with the unity government or to stop funding it, and that might tell Hamas, “Well, maybe we should think twice about sending rockets in.” But the way you’ve cast it, they can send an unlimited number of rockets in and they can still be supportive of this unity government and you’ll still give the unity government and the PA money.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we made a decision as the United States Government that our assistance to the Palestinian Authority is important to the United States. And so that’s why it is continuing. And they did – have met the criteria, including the Quartet principles that have been laid out. We will be judging this government by its actions and we will address issues as needed moving forward, but nothing has changed at this point in time.
QUESTION: You don’t see this attack as an action of the government?
MS. PSAKI: No, we --
QUESTION: You see it by – you see it as an action by a supporter of the government. Not you, I’m talking about Hamas, right? I mean, you – correct me if I – I mean, if you – well, is that correct? Let’s just start there. You see this as an attack by Hamas on Israel. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes. You do understand the equivalent – the Israelis say that because Hamas is a – while there are no Hamas members in it, this government, this technocratic government is supported by Hamas, and therefore this is a problem. You don’t agree with that.
MS. PSAKI: Well again, Matt, this is a technocratic government that just formed in the past couple of weeks. We’ll be watching events closely as time continues. The government itself has abided by the principles that we have outlined through the Quartet and what the United States expects as well, and we’ll evaluate accordingly. But nothing has changed as it relates to our assistance.
QUESTION: All right. And then just on Abbas himself, you say that he has condemned it. But the condemnation is really – I mean it’s good, I suppose, that he is not applauding and saying this is a good thing. But he needs to stop it, doesn’t he? Isn’t that the U.S. position?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he’s also demanded that all factions abide by the ceasefire agreement.
QUESTION: Right. But at some point it’s got to be actions, not words, right? So this is – I just – this is not an action enough to get you to – to get the Administration to change its position?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: Clarification: Are you certain that it was Hamas that fired the rocket, or could it be some rogue group from Gaza? Because there are all kinds of rogue groups.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t have any more information. I think we’re all familiar with the connection between Hamas and Gaza and how they control Gaza.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So the Japanese defense minister announced that he has formally protested over a close encounter that Japanese jets had with Chinese jets in the East China Sea. I wanted to know if you had any comments on it.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I think I do, one moment.
We have seen the reports of Chinese and Japanese aircraft in close proximity. We urge all states to ensure that they respect the safety of aircraft in flight. All parties need to take steps to peacefully manage their differences and develop crisis management procedures that can avoid miscalculations or further incidents at sea or in the air. Any attempt to interfere with freedom of overflight in international airspace raises regional tensions and increases the risk of miscalculation, confrontation, and unintended incidents.
QUESTION: I’d just like to stay in Asia for a second --
MS. PSAKI: In Asia?
QUESTION: Yeah. Just on this new ban on interfaith marriages in Burma – do you have anything on this?
MS. PSAKI: I do not, but I’m happy to take it and we’ll get a comment around to all of you.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. The United States supports peace talks and the Colombians’ effort – the Colombian Government’s effort to bring an end to decades of violence. We’re not a party to these negotiations, so we would naturally refer you to them.
QUESTION: I assume this support, which you’ve voiced before with the talks with the FARC, includes the new actors which have joined the talks?
MS. PSAKI: Correct. Yes, that’s right. Correct.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you have a readout on yesterday’s meeting between Ihara and Davies, by any chance?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies met with his Japanese counterpart in Washington yesterday, June 10th. They had a very productive discussion on a wide range of issues related to the D.P.R.K. The United States and Japan agree on the fundamental importance of a denuclearized North Korea. Director General Ihara’s visit reflects the close cooperation between our countries and our continued focus on pursuing the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea in a peaceful manner.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further readout for you. I believe the focus was on the threat of – the threats from North Korea.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) yesterday --
QUESTION: One more Japan.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Okay. Japanese Government willing to lift existing sanctions against North Korea. What is the U.S. view of Japanese Government relationship with North Korea currently?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we – the United States and Japan agree on the fundamental importance of a de-nuclearized North Korea. That was part of obviously the focus of the discussion that Glyn Davies had yesterday with his counterpart, and we remain in close touch and in consultations with them about how to address the nuclear threats from North Korea.
QUESTION: But in – Japanese Government is too close with North Korea right now, and is like – Six-Party Talk, to mess that up, so how are you going to think about this situation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we remain in close dialogues with the members of the Six-Party Talks, as obviously the meeting yesterday is a good example of.
QUESTION: I think Ambassador Shannon finishes his meetings with (inaudible) team with him for two days. Do you have any readout of these talks with Egyptian officials?
MS. PSAKI: They’re still on the ground now. Ambassador Shannon – who’s also the State Department Counselor – as well as Ambassador David Thorne, have been meeting with Egyptian government officials to discuss opportunities for cooperation to reform and reignite growth in the Egyptian economy. They had meetings with a range of Egyptian officials yesterday and today, and I’ll be able to provide you a more expansive list of that probably by tomorrow.
QUESTION: So the second question: Yesterday, David Satterfield was in Egypt and he met foreign minister. I think David Satterfield now is a special envoy for Libya, or if that’s his title, I am not sure. But because they were discussing – with Foreign Minister Fahmy they discussed Libya. Do you have any readout of this meeting?
MS. PSAKI: I do not. I am happy to check and see if there’s more we can share. And Ambassador Satterfield has remained in his position that is outside the U.S. Government, but he has been assisting and advising on Libya. And as I noted yesterday, we expect the Secretary will speak with Foreign Minister Fahmy soon in the coming days.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is the United States considering downgrading Thailand when it comes to human trafficking?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we will be releasing our human trafficking report – sorry, I just gave myself a paper cut. (Laughter.) We will be releasing our human trafficking report in the coming weeks, so I don’t want to give a preview of that. I’ll just suggest you – everybody tune in for that report.
QUESTION: Have you been watching or are you aware of The Guardian report in – concerning slavery on shrimp boats based in Thailand?
MS. PSAKI: We are aware of that report. We’re currently – but I’m not going to speculate on it given we will be releasing the report in the coming weeks – our trafficking report, I should say.
QUESTION: Right. How about downgrading Thailand on the democracy scale, or has that already happened?
MS. PSAKI: I think --
QUESTION: Further downgrading it on the democracy scale.
MS. PSAKI: You know that we have called it a coup, Matt, so --
QUESTION: Right. No, I know. But so is there any update on that, as a matter – any update on aid suspended for --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I do have an update on assistance. As you know, we’ve been reviewing this, and sometimes it takes time to determine which accounts need to be addressed. So at this point, we have already suspended approximately 4.7 million in these accounts, including FMF, IMET, and PKO funding. We have also canceled – and I believe we’ve announced this, but U.S. government-sponsored firearms training program in Thailand for the Royal Thai Police, as well as a U.S. Government-sponsored study trip to the United States for several senior Royal Thai Police officers. And several weeks ago, of course, the Department of Defense announced plans – the cancellation of Exercise CARAT, which had been underway, and some of their senior-level exchanges.
QUESTION: Okay. So that’s the extent of it at the moment? Is there still – review still goes on?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. The review’s still ongoing, but that’s the latest number, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The 4.7, was that previously disclosed?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure if we had given that exact number before. We’re – it’s just an updated number. But that’s my recollection, Arshad.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Go --
QUESTION: No --
QUESTION: I had a question on the Turkish cleric, Mr. Gulen. The last few days, federal agents raided – sorry, 19 of his schools. As you know, Mr. Gulen is the arch-enemy of the prime minister of Turkey. My first question is that if you have any comment on this, and my second question is that since Mr. Erdogan asked you to Mr. Gulen to Turkey, is this investigation a part of the expel process?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any comment and we don’t speak to extradition requests.
Did you --
MS. PSAKI: Okay. One more, Goyal.
MS. PSAKI: Bangladesh, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Thank you. Madam, outgoing ambassador of Bangladesh said that his country has made progress as far as those at factory fires and problems and also labor problems were concerned, safety and among other things. If you can update if U.S. is happy as far as – because his country seeks more investment, including trades and all that.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve taken a number of steps, as you’ve mentioned, so why don’t we connect you with the experts on that who can get you a briefing.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So this morning, your officials – one of the officials from this building, the energy security bureau – that would be one of the accomplishments of the QDDR, the original one.
MS. PSAKI: One of many.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Was on the Hill and testified that yes, in fact, there is oil being sent by Iran to Syria, but this is not in any way helping the Iranian economy.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Can you explain how that is?
MS. PSAKI: Because they’re not receiving revenue from it.
QUESTION: Right. But it is still support. I mean, money, among other things, is kind of – is fungible. They’re supporting the Assad regime with this free oil, meaning that they’re not having to buy stuff, they’re not having to spend money for energy for Assad, right? That would seem to be a material – a net, sorry – a net gain for the Iranian economy if, in fact, everything you say about the Iranians supporting Assad and the – and attendant rebel groups fighting on his side is true.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the point he was making, Matt, was that other countries would purchase by providing revenue to Iran for the oil they receive, and this is obviously a different circumstance. I guess you could make an argument, as you suggested, that it’s money they would have spent otherwise. But I think the point was – that the senior official was making was that they’re not receiving their own – revenue from the Syrian Government for the oil that they’re providing, so therefore it doesn’t --
MS. PSAKI: -- contribute to their revenue numbers.
QUESTION: Right. But revenue isn’t the entire aspect of the economy, though. I mean, it still seems to be benefiting the Iranian Government because they’re not having to spend money they otherwise would. Is that not – is that – why is that logic not – why is that not logical?
MS. PSAKI: Because I think you’re making a number of guesses about what assistance they would provide. When you compare it to other circumstances, they would receive revenue for the oil they provide.
MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:19 p.m.)
DPB # 103