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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With California Congressman Ed Royce; Interview With State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf; Iraq in Crisis; Americans Accused of Sympathizing with ISIS; Gaza Truce Begins Second Day; FBI Probes Police Shooting of Teen

Aired August 11, 2014 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, humanitarian nightmare.

A CNN crew captures a dangerous and dramatic scene as the military tries to save the lives of thousands of trapped refugees. One official is now warning of genocide.

Troops' intention -- a power struggle in Baghdad as a new prime minister is nominated, but the current one is refusing to go, raising fears, serious fears, of a possible coup.

And foreign policy failure, Hillary Clinton challenging her former boss with a surprisingly blunt assessment of President Obama and the rise of the ISIS forces.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

Let's get right to the breaking news, the humanitarian nightmare unfolding right now in Northern Iraq. And CNN has captured some of the most dramatic video yet of the desperate plight of tens of thousands of refugees trying to flee ISIS forces.

Our crew was there as the Iraqi military helicopters undertook an incredibly dangerous mission to save lives. At the same time, there's an intense power struggle under way in Baghdad right now. The Iraqi president has named a new prime minister-designate. President Obama says he spoke to him today.

But the outgoing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is vowing to hang on to power.

We're covering all the angles of the breaking news this hour with our correspondents and guests in key locations.

Let's begin with our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson. He's in Northern Iraq with some of the more stunning images that are truly shocking the world.

Ivan, I want you to show you viewers what you saw. Tell us what it was like because you did amazing work. IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well the Iraqi

air force has been flying several flights a day of humanitarian assistance from this airstrip here in Northwestern Iraq to Sinjar Mountain.

They have to fly because the mountain is mostly surrounded by ISIS militants. The only way to get there really is by air. So we flew with the Iraqi air force and I don't think we realized quite how nervous they are until they got over what they say are ISIS positions and started unleashing machine gun fire from both barrels off the side of the aircraft at targets down below, I believe probably to suppress any possible upcoming fire.

They really burned through ammunition there. And then when they got over the dramatic Mount Sinjar, which just rises up this big massif coming out of the plain, that's where we sue the Yazidi people, these people that the whole world has been talking about, who were ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages a bit more than a week ago. And the only place they could run to for safety was this mountaintop, where they have been stranded for a week.

Now we saw they did not have shelter. They were mostly women, children, hiding under trees, under some ruined buildings that had been apparently protected by barbed wire. They came running out. This was a very disorganized aid distribution program project, operation. The helicopter crew were just dumping everything from water to food to baby's diapers and milk, just hurling them out of the helicopter down to the waiting people below.

And when they touched down briefly to let people on board, it was a real scrum. It was chaotic. Nobody was organizing the evacuation. It was first come first serve. And some people didn't make it. The people who did make it on board were in terrible shock. They were traumatized. There were tears. It was very, very, very emotional.

And, you know, the trauma wasn't over, because on the flight out, once again the machine guns started kicking off. The machine gunners shooting down at the ISIS front lines. That was the only protection for this aircraft and for its precious cargo before it got back here to Kurdistan to safety -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Do we know how many people -- I know you, on your helicopter, there with the Iraqi military, the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, saved 20 people or so. How many people are really on the mountaintop?

WATSON: I saw hundreds and they were scattered around over a pretty large chunk of territory.

The senior Kurdish commander here, he said that that number could be up to 70,000 perhaps hiding in caves and in valleys like that of this kind of very unusual mountain range. I can't confirm that. He did also say that at least 6,000 have escaped, 6,000 families have escaped over an overland route that the Peshmerga fighters have carved out to Syria. But it is a difficult journey. They have to walk about 10 miles on foot in the heat and they risk being shelled by ISIS militants on that journey out. The most vulnerable people clearly cannot make the journey out. There are people, definitely people still trapped on that mountaintop as we speak tonight.

BLITZER: On a personal level, Ivan, what was it like to see that situation unfold?

WATSON: I have never witnessed something quite as chaotic, quite as dramatic.

Wolf, this isn't a national disaster. This isn't people trapped in a flood on the rooftop of their house. This is a manmade disaster. This is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. We have seen this across Northern Iraq. Further to the east, it's Iraqi Christians by the hundreds of thousands that have been pushed at of their homes.

Here it's the Yazidis, a religious minority. The most acute example of it, the critical example of it is on the mountain. But we have seen hundreds of thousands of people pushed out of their homes because of their ethnic identity and their sectarian identity. There's nothing else but to call this ethnic and sectarian cleansing.

And when you ask the people, as I asked one young man who lost his father in the flight from his hometown and was separated from him and heard his phone calls for about two days while his dad was trapped in a house and then the line went dead and they haven't heard from him since, it's a week since they fled their homes, when you ask him, who did this? Who were you running from? Were they foreign fighters? Who were they?

He said, no, they were Arabs, Arabs from the area, from the region, perhaps Arabs who had lived in neighboring villages. This is a very, very scary phenomenon we're seeing unfold right now.

BLITZER: The horrible situation may only just be beginning as we watch right now. Ivan Watson, one of our courageous journalists, thanks so much for that report. Ivan is doing an amazing job for all of us.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

We're getting more word of more U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

Tell our viewers what you're learning over there, Barbara, because there's a series, what, of about four more airstrikes just in the past few hours.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, four airstrikes over a three-hour period and very crucial.

They were in the Mount Sinjar region. U.S. warplanes went against ISIS checkpoints, vehicles, a number of areas where the ISIS fighters have been hanging out. Very interesting they're going after checkpoints. It does make you wonder if the U.S. is preparing with the international community for some type of overland evacuation out of there.

That may be a possibility. We have seen President Obama twice now refer to the effort to try to get the international community to find a way to get the people off the mountain -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, stand.

I want to get some more right now on the intense power struggle happening right in the middle of Baghdad pitting the country's president against now supposed to be the former prime minister.

Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is working this part of the story.

Elise, we heard from the president of the United States. He said he called the new prime minister, but this is not a done deal yet.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No, Wolf, it was a glimmer of hope with the appointment of a new prime minister but the old one is clinging to power in a dangerous political showdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LABOTT (voice-over): Iraq's political power struggle finally reached a breaking point. The president named the deputy speaker of parliament to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The U.S. welcomed the move as an important first step.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier today, Vice President Biden and I called Dr. Abadi to congratulate him and to urge him to form a new cabinet as quickly as possible.

LABOTT: Haider al-Abadi is a Shia from the same party as Maliki, even serving as his aide. Can he unite the country and fight off the sweeping advances by ISIS militants?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abadi is something of a gray suit. He's someone who has never been involved in a personal controversy. You know, he will try to be inclusive and work with people. But at the same time, he's never been someone to push for reform.

LABOTT: Al-Abadi has 30 days to form a government. But as of now, Maliki is refusing to go quietly, saying he deserves a third term. He's deploying troops to the streets of Baghdad and threatening to contest al-Abadi's appointment.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We assure the Iraq people that what took place is worthless and should bear no consequences, null and void.

LABOTT: Secretary of State John Kerry warned the U.S. would withhold its support if Maliki did not step aside.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir the waters. There will be little international support of any kind whatsoever for anything that deviates from the legitimate constitutional process that is in place.

LABOTT: The U.S. has signaled further military support once a new Iraqi government is in place, but with another Shia at the helm of that government, risks pushing the Sunnis into the arms of ISIS, which are also Sunnis, and that could further divide the country along sectarian lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Shia government is relying very heavily on Shia militias. And so any U.S. military aides needs to be tied to reducing the Shia militias and pulling them back and institutionalizing military force.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LABOTT: And, Wolf, time is not on Haider al-Abadi's side. He needs those 30 days. If he can't, the Iraqis go back to square one. That gives the time for Maliki to bide his time. Meanwhile, ISIS continues to advance, while the Iraqis sort out the political mess.

BLITZER: Total mess there. It's a horrible situation unfolding. Elise, thanks very much.

President Obama spoke out about the multiple crises in Iraq just a little while ago while on vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. He praised the designation of the new prime minister saying only a legitimate unified government of Baghdad can lead the country in the fight against the ISIS forces.

Let's get some more on the situation in Iraq. Joining us now is the deputy State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf.

Marie, thanks very much for joining us.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as you know, has deployed troops around the Green Zone. How concerned are you that the outgoing prime minister could use force and effectively launch a coup?

MARIE HARF, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, Wolf, what we're focused on today is the real progress they made on the ground to name a new prime minister-designate.

They Shiite bloc came together, including members of Prime Minister Maliki's own party, to select a new leader and designate going forward. Prime Minister Maliki is still the prime minister legally for the time being. But what the president said today, our president, is that we're really encouraging the new prime minister-designate to move quickly to form a new government. He has 30 days.

But we know they need to do this as soon as possible to really confront the threat together.

BLITZER: What if he doesn't do that? What if Nouri al-Maliki -- and he's got a lot of forces who are loyal to him. He's certainly got a lot of support from the Iranians. He's been very close to the leadership in Tehran. What if he says, you know what, I'm the prime minister and I'm going to stay in power? What do you do then? HARF: Well, Wolf, let's not get ahead of where we are today.

What we have seen is the Iraqis come together in a remarkable way that we haven't seen in the past, understanding the urgency of the threat they face, to confront it together. They have hit all of their benchmarks in terms of government formation. And, look, we never thought this would be easy. We know there are high tensions and many emotions involved, but what we're focused on is the fact that there is a prime minister-designate who has support from the Shiite bloc, from members of Prime Minister Maliki's own party.

And we believe that the Iraqis understand they need to move forward very quickly with a new government.

BLITZER: So Haider al-Abadi has 30 days to form a new government. Does that mean in the next 30 days the U.S. is going to continue some airstrikes, continue humanitarian drops of supplies, of food and water, medical equipment, but is not going to really do what needs to be done, go in there, give the kind of weaponry to the Kurdish forces, give the kind of support to the Iraqi troops that you say are needed to save thousands of lives?

HARF: Well, what we have already done and what we will continue doing is these humanitarian airdrops, first of all, to get much needed food and water to the thousands of people.

I know you just showed some incredibly moving footage of what these people are going through. That's why the United States has been providing them with food and water, trying to help them in the situation they're in. But you're also going to see us continue the airstrikes that we have been doing against ISIL targets, protecting Irbil, trying to prevent ISIL from moving forward, because we know that's also in our international interests.

So, that's all going to continue, while at the same time we will work on the political side to push the Iraqis to get a new government in place.

BLITZER: I spoke earlier today with Massour Barzani (ph). He's the minister for intelligence for the Kurdish regional government in Northern Iraq. And he was pretty sad. He said that the U.S. supplying some ammunition to the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters, a little bit too little too late. He says they needed heavy weaponry to deal with the ISIS armored personnel carriers and the tanks that they stole from the Iraqi military, all U.S. equipment, state-of-the-art equipment.

And he feels you guys haven't really come through, the United States. Your reply?

HARF: Well, Wolf, we have been expediting requests. We have been helping the Kurds and the Iraqi security forces with arms.

We have been helping them get themselves back on their feet and get equipped to fight this treat. I would also point out that we have seen an unprecedented level of cooperation between the Iraqi security forces and the Kurds, working together in a way we really have never seen them do in the past and that's been an encouraging sign for us.

So, we're going to keep expediting our support to the Kurds and to the Iraqi security forces. We're doing more of it. We're going to keep doing more of it because we know the threat is very real and very urgent.

BLITZER: So, you will continue to provide weapons, ammunition to the Kurds through the CIA? Is that right?

HARF: No. Look, we have been working with the government of Iraq to provide some of the weapons we have in our stockpiles to the Kurds.

The government of Iraq has already done that with some of their existing weapons and we're going to be doing it some of ours. So, all of this is coordinated with the central government and we're going to do more of it, though, because we know the need is urgent. And we know they need more very quickly.

BLITZER: So coordinated with the central government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki?

HARF: Well, the central government writ large in Iraq.

Look, Iraqi leaders from across the spectrum have asked for our assistance here. They have asked for our arms. They have asked for our support. We have been working with them for many months now, but especially in the past few days and week, to really expedite some of this because we know the need is so urgent.

BLITZER: Do you agree with some of these Kurdish leaders, including Massour Barzani (ph) and Qubad Talabani -- I spoke with both of them today -- they're major figures in Kurdistan -- that what is going on right now is genocide against many of these religious minorities, including a lot of Christians?

HARF: Well, you heard the president and the secretary both said this was the situation with the potential to be genocide.

That's what we're trying to prevent. That's why you see us doing these airdrops of humanitarian assistance, trying to figure out if there are ways to open humanitarian corridors to eventually get a sustainable situation in place where these people can get off of this mountain they have been trapped for so long with so little food and water.

So, look, this is an incredibly dire humanitarian situation. And that's why you saw us bring our unique capabilities to bear in the problem when we could help.

BLITZER: So, you say it's a potential for genocide, but not genocide yet; is that right?

HARF: Well, I think I will let the president's words speak for himself here.

But he was very clear about how dire the humanitarian situation is, how this was getting close to genocide. And we really needed to act. We had the ability to do so. And that's why we did.

BLITZER: Most people agree that the only way to defeat an army is with an army, that airpower alone won't defeat the ISIS forces. I know you're not a military expert, but that's the argument you keep hearing, right?

HARF: Well, look, this is not intended, the airstrikes we're doing now, intended to be a long-term strategy against ISIL.

This is intended to prevent ISIL from moving forward towards Irbil. In the long term, we're working with Iraqi forces and with the Kurdish help them put a long-term strategy in place to go up against ISIL, because we know there's no American military solution here in the long term. There's only an Iraqi one.

We're going to help them regroup, re-equip, get trained up so they can take on this threat themselves, because at the end of the day, that's really what is going to need to happen.

BLITZER: How many people, Americans, military, diplomatic, civilians, are in the Northern Iraqi area of Irbil right now?

HARF: We don't give an exact number for security reasons, but there is a very large contingent based in Irbil.

What we're doing right now is adjusting our staffing at Irbil and Baghdad and Basra, where most personnel are needed. So we moved some out of Irbil over the weekend, but also moved some in, some that are experts in disaster response and the kind of humanitarian work we need up in the north. We have a very robust staff on the ground.

That's one of the main reasons we don't want to have to pull people out. We want to defend Irbil because we want an American presence there, particularly, Wolf, in our joint operations center, which shares intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance with the Iraqis who are fighting this threat.

BLITZER: Marie Harf is the deputy spokeswoman at the State Department.

Marie, thanks very much for joining us.

HARF: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Still ahead, Hillary Clinton criticizes President Obama on foreign policy. We will details of how the possible presidential candidate is right now dramatically distancing herself from her old boss when it comes to this issue.

Plus, a chilling scenario, terrorists joining forces, al Qaeda militants sharing their deadly tactics with ISIS forces. We will talk about all that and more with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce. There you see him. He's standing by live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Iraq, the humanitarian

nightmare playing out in the northern part of the country right now, and the intense power struggle playing out in Baghdad.

All of this comes as the ISIS forces sweep the country and now they appear to be getting help from other terrorists determined to strike against the United States.

Brian Todd is working this part of the story with us. Brian is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

What are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some disturbing new information tonight.

ISIS is not only in good position to hold the territory it's captured, but it's getting help from some menacing groups which Americans will be familiar with.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): There are frightening new indications that ISIS is getting some dangerous reinforcements. A U.S. official tells CNN small groups from a number of al Qaeda affiliates have defected to ISIS and the officials says that trend could accelerate if ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, continues to rack up victories on the battlefield.

The appeal of ISIS to other jihadists is something top counterterror officials have been warning about for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It remains a magnet for extremists around the world.

TODD: And it's the group's ISIS is drawing from, analysts say, which sends chills down the spines of Western intelligence officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a certain number of fighters who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

TODD: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the group that's successfully gotten bombs on planes bound to the United States. For fighters from those groups, the ISIS track record in Syria and Iraq is a big draw.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Nothing succeeds like success and ISIS is succeeding and some these other groups have had failures. for instance, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb controlled half of Mali, and now doesn't.

TODD: Another draw? ISIS propaganda videos like this one, showing the capture of a massive dam in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

CHARLIE COOPER, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: They're showing operations as they happen. They're showing the jihadists going into battle on the back of a pickup truck into the middle of lots and lots of shooting, showing their fear. This is something is a level of commitment that appeals to jihadists.

TODD: And today we learned of an American who allegedly sympathized with ISIS arrested recently as New York's Kennedy Airport. And at least four others from the U.S. have been indicted for their links to ISIS.

BERGEN: These conflicts are going to go on for a long time. They're going to continue draw foreign fighters, including Americans, for the foreseeable future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And Peter Bergen says that the Americans who have allied themselves with ISIS actually pale in comparison to the Europeans. Hundreds of them from Britain, France and Germany have joined ISIS or otherwise supported them. The good news, Bergen says, is that U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies are much better now at tracking these militants wherever they go -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And there's some experts who suggest there's a big ideological reason that some of these militants are attracted to ISIS.

TODD: It's a clear ideological pull there, Wolf. The fighters from AQAP and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, they're mostly Sunni. They have a real attraction to do battle with forces allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Nouri al-Maliki's group in Iraq, which clearly have Shia backing. That's an ideological divide within the Muslim faith. And that's drawing those Sunni Muslim fighters to ISIS from all over.

BLITZER: Certainly a dangerous situation all around.

Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Let's talk about all of this and more with Congressman Ed Royce of California. He's the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He's joining us now live.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.

Let me get right to the last point that Brian made. How much of a threat in ISIS domestically here in the United States?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: I would say, Wolf, it's more a threat for Europe than for the U.S., but with the virtual caliphate on the Internet, ISIS has this capacity to draw from all over North Africa, Europe certainly Central Asia.

And that's exactly what you see. Most of their fighters, a majority of them, are now foreign fighters. And some of those, over 100, come from the United States as well. So, it's those U.S. passport holders that are a real concern here. BLITZER: We saw some really powerful, dramatic video that Ivan Watson

came out of an Iraqi helicopter seeing people that are literally dying right now. But they're running for their lives.

What should the United States be doing to save these tens of thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority, these Christian and so many others who are being targeted now, some say genocide, by these ISIS terrorists?

ROYCE: Well, genocide is clearly the intention here on the part of the ideology, because it is convert or die.

So, for those who do not, they're targeted for extinction. Clearly, what the United States needs to do is to make absolutely certain that the will of the parliament in Iraq, by working with soft power there, now you have the Shias, the Sunnis, the Kurds all agreeing Maliki must go.

I called for Maliki to be gone several -- many, many months ago, because he was not working to be inclusive. But if you get a new inclusive government there -- and that, of course, is the desire of the overwhelming percentage in parliament and the president of the country -- you get a new prime minister, then you get an effective cohesion in Iraq. And that's critical.

BLITZER: But that may be the will of a lot of people, but it might not necessarily be the will of Nouri al-Maliki and some of the forces, Shiite forces who are very loyal to him, many of whom have tanks, armored personnel carriers, and they're threatening to take charge of Baghdad right now.

Here's the question. What does the U.S. do if he launches a coup?

ROYCE: We're following that right now and let me make the observation. We know that maybe a month ago or so, he put his son in charge of the military. He put previously a number of his Lachis (ph) into position of responsibility. But further down the officer corps, the junior officers know he has failed, his people, even his Shia coalition know he has failed, he has no support to remain as prime minister.

So, you're right. He's going to give that order. But my presumption is from what I hear in Baghdad is that it's not going to be heard by the Shia, the Sunni, or the Kurdish political forces, and everybody right now has reach the conclusion that he must go. I think he's going to be forced out. I think it might be a little difficult over the next 72 hours. But I think at the end of the day, he's gone.

And that's the first opportunity for cohesion here against the ISIS because almost all of these defeats on the ground, RA (ph) result of his wrong headedness in terms of sacking people in the military who knew what they were doing in terms of -- the courage we're going to defend Mosul, he ordered them out, he ordered his own units in and of course those units run away, right?

So, we need effective leadership in Iraq. This is a decision Iraqis are going to have to make. They have shown their support for changing that government. Now, the parliament and the political parties have to go to work to force him out.

BLITZER: What should the president be doing that he's not doing right now?

ROYCE: Well, the critic is mainly what was not done when we had the opportunity when ISIS was still in Syria. And you've heard some of those arguments from our Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the attempt to support the free Syrian army back before the foreign fighters even got there.

And then, once ISIS began to move out of Syria into Iraq, myself and many others called for arm drone strikes against those units before they ever could take Mosul. But now they've got this huge treasury, you know, the national wealth was in the bank up there in Mosul. They've got that at their disposal. So, at this point, through air strikes, we've got limited options, we are supporting the troops on the group including the Kurds in order to try to turn back this onslaught and to prevent this humanitarian disaster.

BLITZER: So, what he's doing he's obviously authorized the air strikes, he's dropping humanitarian supplies, it keeps saying no boots on the ground, the U.S. is not going to get involve on the ground --

ROYCE: Right.

BLITZER: -- sending troops into Iraq to fight to this battle, only Iraqis can do that, or the Kurds can do that. So, on those basic points you're with the president?

ROYCE: Yeah, I think on those basic points, the consensus is that now we have an opportunity with the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish forces if Maliki goes, they need to be the infantry on the ground and we can provide some air support and certainly some weaponry to the Kurds, but that, I think, is the consensus right now.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton in an interview in the Atlantic magazine with Jeffrey Goldberg said, "Great nations need organizing principles and don't do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle." That's early an implied criticism of the president of the United States. It was quoted as saying, "Don't do stupid stuff." words to that effect issue, right?

ROYCE: Well, I will add to that. Remember, this request for armed drone strikes for strikes on those ISIS columns when they were coming out of Syria in order to start to take city by city. That critic comes not only from our former secretary state, that came for out of our embassy, that came from the government of Baghdad, that came from many in the military who wanted to make certain that we were at least assisting to prevent ISIS from taking these cities. And that request was turned down by the president himself despite this request made internally and that's, I think, the criticism.

BLITZER: Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.

ROYCE: Thank you. BLITZER: We're going to have much more on what Hillary Clinton is saying now about the Obama Administration foreign policy, the Obama doctrine, that some people are calling it. That's coming up. Brianna Keiler is working on that story.

Also coming up, the fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, will it hold? We're going live to Gaza for the very latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're getting some new information and just coming in the Situation Room about President Obama's phone call today to the Iraqi Prime Minister designate Haider al-Ibadi.

White House says, "The President express support for the formation of the New Iraqi government. Both leaders agree that it should be assembled as soon as possible, that it should be a representative of all Iraqis." The Prime Minister- designate also discussed the need to partner with the United States to strengthen Iraq's military so that it can take on ISIS forces. One huge problem right now, the outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is by no needs onboard. He might resist, he's got a lot of troops loyal to him. There could be a coup. This is a very, very dangerous situation. We'll have much more on this coming up shortly.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is stirring up some big political waves with both Democrats and Republicans by pointing to what she calls a failure and President Obama's foreign policies, her harshness criticism yet of her former boss.

Our senior political corresponded Brianna Keilar is working on this part of the story for us. What are you learning, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is significant. And White House officials, though given a heads up before Clinton's interview as published by Clinton's camp, they are downplaying her remarks trying to minimize the impact of what is major daylight between President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: A shocking development in the Obama-Clinton relationship. Hillary Clinton calling a key part of the president's foreign policy in Syria a failure that he's contributed to the current crises in Iraq.

In an interview with the Atlantic she says, "The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protest against Assad, there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle. The failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the Judaists have now filled."

It's by far Clinton's biggest critic yet of the president she served as secretary of state. In her memoir about her time in the Obama administration, Clinton details her disagreement with the president who decided not to arm rebels in the three-year old conflict until only recently.

In June, Clinton told CNN it was too soon to judge of equipping moderate Syrian rebels would have prevented a protracted civil war.

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's very difficult in respect to say that would have prevented this.

KEILAR: Not so difficult anymore, it appears, asked by the Atlantic about Obama's self described foreign policy doctrine of, "Don't do stupid stuff". Clinton said, "Great nations need organizing principles, and, "Don't do stupid stuff," is not an organizing principle."

As she weighs her for president in 2016, Clinton's comments serve her politically distancing her from an unpopular president who is foreign policy is under attack. And it harkens back to a strategy she used against Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary after he said he would engage with Venezuelan and Cuban dictators.