US building coalition to fight IS

Published August 30, 2014
This Aug. 28, 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. — Photo by AP
This Aug. 28, 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. — Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has said that the United States is in talks with its allies to build an international coalition for a potential joint military action against militants of the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS).

“I’ve asked Secretary (of State John) Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat,” he told a briefing at the White House.

Further elaborating the purpose of building such a coalition, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “There are a range of ways to contribute: humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic.”

Other US officials told media outlets that besides allies in the Middle East, the proposed coalition would include traditional US partners. Reports in the US media claimed that the Obama administration wants Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Britain, France, Australia and Germany, to join the proposed coalition.

While Washington hopes to rope in traditional allies like Britain and Australia, others may need greater persuasion to join the group.

Germany has confirmed discussing the proposed coalition with the United States, but said that it would not participate in this coalition. France too is refusing to join a military action.

At his briefing, President Obama indicated that his efforts were focused on recruiting partners from the Middle East because “IS poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region”.

He said that any US military action against the militants “has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIS”.

The effort to combat the militants, he said, “starts with Iraq’s leaders … forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIS”.

President Obama said he had directed Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. On Thursday evening, the president also held discussions with his National Security Council.

Other US officials said Washington could act alone if necessary because it was determined to stop IS’s advance, which had already seized a third each of Iraq and Syria.

Syria has offered to work with the United States to defeat the militants, but President Bashar al Assad has warned that any strikes conducted without consulting Damascus first would be considered an act of aggression.

The United States has rejected the Syrian offer.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2014

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