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Destined for criticism from those who oppose any military action in curbing or stopping ISIL’s rampage and atrocities, President Obama on Friday appeared to have received assurances for support and cooperation from “at least nine allies,” at the NATO Summit in Wales, according to the New York Times.
Those allies, referred to by Secretary of Defense Hagel as the “core coalition,” are Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark.
The efforts against ISIL would consist of continued airstrikes against ISIL leaders and positions, strengthening “the moderate Syrian rebel groups to reclaim ground lost to ISIS, and enlist friendly governments in the region to join the fight.”
However, the president’s aides insist that Obama has not yet made a decision on the use of airstrikes inside Syria. This is a critical and complex decision because it is essential in order to “degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL” — as the President claims to be his goal — but also involves attacking another nation, significantly enlarging the conflict and the risks for further escalation and, at the same time, it is seen by many as indirectly helping President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Speaking at the conclusion of the NATO Summit in Wales, the President said that any coalition against ISIL must include Arab states — particularly Sunni Arab states. He added that people in the region need to see those states “rejecting the kind of extremist nihilism that we’re seeing out of ISIL.”
Obama administration officials said privately that in addition to the participants at the meeting Friday, the United States was hoping to get quiet intelligence help about the Sunni militants from Jordan. Its leader, King Abdullah II, was attending the Wales summit meeting.
United States officials said they also expected Saudi Arabia to contribute to funding moderate Syrian rebel groups. In addition, Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, said in a statement this week that the Emirates stood ready to join the fight against ISIS. “No one has more at stake than the U.A.E. and other moderate countries in the region that have rejected the regressive Islamist creed and embraced a different, forward-looking path,” the ambassador said.
Watch the President’s press conference at the conclusion of the NATO Summit in Wales below, and read his full remarks here.
Perhaps the strongest words at the NATO Summit came from Secretary of State John Kerry, who, at the start of the meeting and after summarizing the progress already made against ISIL, said:
There is no containment policy for ISIL. They’re an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, Caliphate-desiring, quasi state within a regular army. And leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us. So there is no issue in our minds about our determination to build this coalition, go after this.
He then described how “we’re going to do [it]”
Read more here.
Lead photo: Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel at NATO meeting in Newport, Wales, Sept. 5 (State Department photo)
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.