Obama to set out strategy for combating Islamic State threat
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama, in a nationally
televised speech, is due to set out his strategy for combating Islamic State
(IS) militants in Iraq and Syria. The highly anticipated address will be
broadcast from the State Floor of the White House at 9pm (local time), timed to
coincide with primetime TV.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in
Baghdad on Wednesday to meet Iraq’s new leaders, including Prime Minister
Haider al Abadi. Kerry pledged the United States’ continued support for
eliminating the extremist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
He did not reveal details of Obama’s plan, but did
announce the US will provide another $48m (£29.8m) to UN agencies and other aid
organisations to help ease the suffering of 1.8 million people who have been
displaced by IS militants.
“The United States and the world will simply not stand
by and watch as ISIL’s evil spreads,” Kerry said. IS has been on the warpath in
Iraq and Syria, taking large swathes of territory and putting US lives at risk,
according the White House.
In the last few weeks, IS has released videos of its
militants beheading kidnapped American journalists James Foley and Steven
Sotloff. Until recently, Obama has been accused of not having a clear plan
about how to deal with the militants.
The President has already ruled out “boots on the
ground”, but it has been hinted that special forces could be used and
airstrikes could be intensified. The US has already conducted more than 150
airstrikes in northern and western Iraq in the last month at the request of the
One of the key questions that remain is whether Obama
is prepared to launch airstrikes within Syrian territory. The US supports a
change of government in Syria and there are many uncertainties over the
consequences of launching military action in a country that is not allied to
On Tuesday, the President met congressional leaders in
a bid to arrange a united front. In an interview broadcast on Sunday as part of
NBC’s Meet The Press, Obama said he preferred not to go after IS alone and was
making efforts to build an international coalition.
To that end, Kerry met with officials in Jordan on
Tuesday and is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia after his stop in Iraq for a
meeting with leaders from across the Middle East.