By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2014 – NATO allies agreed today that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant poses “a significant threat” to the alliance and that key allies will join the United States in confronting the terrorists, President Barack Obama said.
Obama spoke today at the conclusion of the NATO Summit in Wales.
NATO allies and partners are prepared to join in a broad international effort to combat the threat posed by ISIL, the president said. “Already, allies have joined us in Iraq, where we have stopped ISIL’s advances,” he added. “We’ve equipped our Iraqi partners and help them go on offense. NATO has agreed to play a role in providing security and humanitarian assistance to those who are on the front lines.”
NATO allies are ready to confront the ISIL threat via military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic efforts, Obama said. The president has dispatched Secretary of State John F. Kerry to the Middle East to continue building the broad-based coalition that he said will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
Obama said he did not get any “push-back” to the basic notion that NATO has a critical role to play “in rolling back this savage organization.” The United States is the only nation launching airstrikes against ISIL, but other nations are involved with humanitarian efforts and in supplying Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The president said the strikes in Iraq against ISIL have degraded the terror group’s capabilities, while ensuring U.S. citizens and U.S. critical infrastructure were safe. The strikes also provide the space for a new, more inclusive Iraqi government to form.
“Our hope is that the Iraqi government is actually formed and finalized next week,” he said. “That then allows us to work with them on a broader strategy.”
Coalition needs Arab states
Any coalition against ISIL must have Arab states -- particularly Sunni Arab states -- as members, Obama said. People in the region need to see those states “rejecting the kind of extremist nihilism that we’re seeing out of ISIL,” he added.
The way ahead in Iraq now is to first encourage the formation of the new Iraqi government, then to build on U.S. assessments to conduct limited airstrikes to protect personnel, critical infrastructure and engage in humanitarian activities, Obama said.
“The third phase will allow us to take the fight to ISIL, [and] broaden the effort,” he added. “Our goal is to act with urgency, but also to make sure we’re doing it right.”