Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Ukraine crisis: US senators urge arms ‘to fight Russia’

September 1, 2014

From the BBC

Some people in Mariupol are already leaving because they fear an attack by pro-Russian separatists, as Richard Galpin reports from the city

Leading American senators have called for the US to send weapons to help Ukraine fight what they say is “a Russian invasion”.

The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Russia must face a cost for its “aggression”.

Earlier, Russian leader Vladimir Putin called for talks to discuss the issue of “statehood” for eastern Ukraine.

Some 2,600 people have died since fighting erupted between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops in April.

“Start Quote

He (Putin) is an old KGB colonel that wants to restore the Russian empire”

End Quote John McCain Republican US senator

The conflict broke out after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in March.

The separatists have been gaining ground on Ukrainian forces in recent days, in both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, and further south around the port of Mariupol.

Last week’s first direct talks between Mr Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk did not lead to any major breakthrough.

A meeting of the so-called Contact Group on Ukraine is expected to start later on Monday in Minsk, Belarus.

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe will attend the talks. The participation of pro-Russian rebels from eastern Ukraine remains unclear.

‘On the table’

Robert Mendez, a Democrat who runs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told CNN: “We should provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29007631

A pro-Russian rebel near Donetsk airport. Photo: 31 August 2014Pro-Russian rebels have been gaining ground in recent days
Residents of Mariupol form a human chain to protest against Russia's actions, 30 Aug
Residents of Mariupol form a human chain in protest against Russia’s actions
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John McCain, 21 Aug
John McCain called for “strong sanctions” on Russia

“This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists, this is a direct invasion by Russia. We must recognise it as that.”

He said the issue “may very well be on the table right now” for President Barack Obama.

Senator John McCain told CBS’s Face the Nation that Mr Putin was “an old KGB colonel that wants to restore the Russian empire”.

Mr McCain called for “strong sanctions”, before adding that Ukraine must be supplied with weapons: “Give them the weapons they need. Give them the wherewithal they need. Give them the ability to fight.”

Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News: “If we don’t provide ‘small and effective’ now, you’re going to get very big and very ugly later.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29007631

Vladimir Putin in Siberia, 31 AugVladimir Putin visits Siberia. He called for discussions on east Ukrainian “statehood”

In Ukraine, there were reports of a first naval encounter in the conflict.

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At the scene: BBC’s Richard Galpin, Mariupol

As we drove south from Dnipropetrovsk to the strategic port city of Mariupol, we soon saw how the Ukrainian army is now building up its forces to protect the south-eastern city from the assault threatened by pro-Russian rebels.

A train carrying about 20 Grad multiple rocket-launchers as well as armoured vehicles, ammunition and troops, was heading in the same direction as us.

Further down the road we came across smaller groups of armoured vehicles with heavily-armed troops sitting on top. Like those on board the train, they were reluctant to talk about their mission.

But Mariupol is preparing for the worst with soldiers digging trenches and using huge concrete tank-traps to block roads.

It’s not clear if or when the separatist rebels – and quite possibly Russian troops – will launch an attack on this port city of almost half-a-million people which lies on the coast of the Azov Sea.

But already the authorities in Mariupol say two coastguard ships came under attack on Sunday leaving six sailors injured.

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Pro-Russian separatists fired artillery shells at a Ukrainian patrol vessel in the Azov Sea, with the Ukrainian military saying a rescue operation was under way.

The rebels have gained ground in the far south-east, pushing towards Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops and local residents are strengthening defences.

But many have fled the city of 500,000 people.

Ukraine and the West blame Russian military support for the recent rebel gains, saying armoured columns have crossed the border. Russia denies military involvement.

Earlier, Mr Putin said the issue of “statehood” for eastern Ukraine needed to be discussed to ensure the interests of local people were “definitely upheld”.

“Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot at almost at point blank,” he said, describing the rebels’ actions as “the natural reaction of people who are defending their rights”.

The West, Mr Putin said, should have foreseen Russia’s reaction to the situation, adding it was impossible to predict how the crisis would end.

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War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost

  • At least 2,593 people killed since mid-April (not including 298 passengers and crew of Malaysian Airlines MH17, shot down in the area) – UN report on 29 August
  • 951 civilians killed in Donetsk region alone, official regional authorities said – 20 August
  • In some particularly dangerous places, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, making accurate counts difficult
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing true numbers
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia
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Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later said the president’s remarks on “statehood” should not be taken to mean an actual separate entity, and that the Ukrainian crisis was a “domestic” one.

Mr Putin’s comments came after the EU gave Russia a one-week ultimatum to reverse course in Ukraine or face more sanctions.

Mr Putin dismissed the EU threat, accusing it of “backing a coup d’etat” in Ukraine.

The EU and US have already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on many senior Russian officials and separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said: “I think that we are very close to the point of no return. Point of no return is full-scale war.”

Ukraine map

Iraqi Army Victory at Amerli — Dramatic Photos

September 1, 2014
  • It is biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since the jihadist group overran five provinces in June 
  • Breakthrough came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time in their military campaign
  • Aircraft delivered over 100 bundles of emergency supplies while more aid was dropped from British and French planes
  • Warplanes hit three vehicles, a tank and an armed vehicle while Amerli was completely surrounded

By Leon Watson for MailOnline

Published: 02:20 EST, 31 August 2014 | Updated: 12:06 EST, 31 August 2014

Iraqi forces broke through to the jihadist-besieged Shiite town of Amerli today where thousands of people have been trapped for more than two months with dwindling food and water supplies.

It is the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since militants led by the Sunni Islamic State jihadist group overran large areas of five provinces in June, sweeping security forces aside.

The breakthrough came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against the militants began more than three weeks ago, and aircraft from several countries dropped humanitarian aid to Amerli.

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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire a rifle towards Islamic State position during the clashes which are part of the biggest offensive by the Iraqi government since June

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire a rifle towards Islamic State position during the clashes which are part of the biggest offensive by the Iraqi government since June

An Iraqi militia fighter from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigade), fires a mortar during the heavy clashes

An Iraqi militia fighter from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigade), fires a mortar during the heavy clashes

Two soldiers bend down and cover their ears as a cannon is fired in Duz-Khurmatu during the biggest offensive by the Iraqi government since June 

Two soldiers bend down and cover their ears as a cannon is fired in Duz-Khurmatu during the biggest offensive by the Iraqi government since June

A militiaman wears a balaclava with a skeleton  design as he poses for a photo with other armed comrades 

A militiaman wears a balaclava with a skeleton  design as he poses for a photo with other armed comrades

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738896/US-carries-air-strikes-against-Islamic-State-fighters-near-besieged-town-Amerli-airdrops-aid-Turkmen-population.html#ixzz3C2qov4rK
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The mainly Shiite Turkmen residents of the town in Salaheddin province were running desperately short of food and water, and were in danger both because of their Shiite faith, which jihadists consider heresy, and their resistance to the militants, which has drawn harsh retribution elsewhere.

‘Our forces entered Amerli and broke the siege,’ Iraqi security spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta said, an account confirmed by a local official and a fighter from the town.

‘It is a very important success,’ Atta later said on state television, adding that there was still fighting in the area.

 

More…

The operation was launched on Saturday after days of preparations in which Iraqi security forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters deployed for the assault and Iraqi aircraft carried out strikes against militants.

The U.S. had carried out air strikes against Islamic State fighters near the town in northern Iraq and airdropped humanitarian aid to civilians trapped there, the Pentagon said.

President Barack Obama authorised the new military action, broadening U.S. operations in Iraq amid an international outcry over the threat to Amerli’s mostly ethnic Turkmen population.

A man loads a bullet into a recoilless rifle before. The breakthrough by the Iraqi government came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against militants began more than three weeks ago

A man loads a bullet into a recoilless rifle before. The breakthrough by the Iraqi government came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against militants began more than three weeks ago

A soldier wearing ear defenders fires a machine gun at  IS positions. Residents in the area have been trapped for more than two months 

A soldier wearing ear defenders fires a machine gun at  IS positions. Residents in the area have been trapped for more than two months

Peshmerga fighters prepare bullets for a machine gun during heavy clashes with Islamic State militants in Duz-Khurmatu, Iraq

Peshmerga fighters prepare bullets for a machine gun during heavy clashes with Islamic State militants in Duz-Khurmatu, Iraq

An Iraqi militia fighter from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigade), stands up next to a rocket launcher holding a flag and a rifle

An Iraqi militia fighter from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigade), stands up next to a rocket launcher holding a flag and a rifle

A plume of smoke hovers after Kurdish troops fire a recoilless rifle during the clashes around 88 kilometres (54 miles) south of Kirkuk 

A plume of smoke hovers after Kurdish troops fire a recoilless rifle during the clashes around 88 kilometres (54 miles) south of Kirkuk

An Al-Sadr militia fighter fires a mortar towards Islamic State positions while his comrade watches and puts his hands over his ears 

An Al-Sadr militia fighter fires a mortar towards Islamic State positions while his comrade watches and puts his hands over his ears

A soldier turns away after a firing a mortar towards IS positions in Salaheddin province. The clashes have been welcomed by residents who have been running out of vital supplies including food and water 

A soldier turns away after a firing a mortar towards IS positions in Salaheddin province. The clashes have been welcomed by residents who have been running out of vital supplies including food and water

A woman and children react in a military helicopter after being evacuated by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad
Evacuation: A home to around 180,000 people, mostly Turkmen Shi'ites, the small town of Amerli, north of Baghdad is still holding out against repeated attacks by Islamic State fighters

Evacuation: A home to around 180,000 people, mostly Turkmen Shi’ites, the small town of Amerli, north of Baghdad is still holding out against repeated attacks by Islamic State fighters

Women and children are evacuated in a military helicopter by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad

Women and children are evacuated in a military helicopter by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad

Iraqi security forces and Turkmen Shiite fighters, who volunteered to join the government forces, hold a position on August 4 in Amerli, some 100 miles north of Baghdad

Iraqi security forces and Turkmen Shiite fighters, who volunteered to join the government forces, hold a position on August 4 in Amerli, some 100 miles north of Baghdad

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738896/US-carries-air-strikes-against-Islamic-State-fighters-near-besieged-town-Amerli-airdrops-aid-Turkmen-population.html#ixzz3C2rHkgGO
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Iraqi security forces and Turkmen Shiite fighters, who volunteered to join the government forces, hold a position on August 4 in Amerli, some 100 miles north of Baghdad

U.S. aircraft delivered over a hundred bundles of emergency supplies and more aid was dropped from British, French and Australian planes, officials said, signaling headway in Obama’s efforts to draw allies into the fight against Islamic State.

Iraqi army and Kurdish forces closed in on Islamic State fighters in a push to break the Sunni militants’ siege of Amerli, which has been surrounded by the militants for more than two months.

Armed residents of Amerli have managed to fend off attacks by Islamic State fighters, who regard the town’s majority Shi’ite Turkmen population as apostates. More than 15,000 people remain trapped inside.

At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli

‘At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli, home to thousands of Shia Turkmen who have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL,’ Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said, using an alternative name for Islamic State.

‘In conjunction with this airdrop, U.S. aircraft conducted coordinated air strikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation,’ he said, adding that a key objective was to prevent a militant attack on civilians in the town.

He said the operations would be ‘limited in their scope and duration’ in order to protect Amerli’s population.

Warplanes hit three Humvee patrol vehicles, a tank and an armed vehicle held by militants in addition to a checkpoint controlled by the group, according to the military’s Central Command, which runs U.S. operations in the Middle East. ‘All aircraft safely exited the area,’ it said in a statement.

When Obama ordered the first air strikes and air drops in Iraq earlier this month, he justified the military operation in part to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe for thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped by Islamic State militants on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738896/US-carries-air-strikes-against-Islamic-State-fighters-near-besieged-town-Amerli-airdrops-aid-Turkmen-population.html#ixzz3C2qP6GRv Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

Islamic State militants overran most of Sunni Arab areas of Iraq after seizing the northern city of Mosul on June 10

Islamic State militants overran most of Sunni Arab areas of Iraq after seizing the northern city of Mosul on June 10

The town of Amerli is around 100 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad

The town of Amerli is around 100 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad

This is the area, straddling Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group claimed to have control of

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Obama and Cameron to tell Nato allies to increase defence spending

August 31, 2014

Leaders are backed by former senior military commanders who say allies must shoulder their share of the military burden and stop relying on others to prop them up

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama Photo: AP

Barack Obama and David Cameron will tell their Nato allies to increase defence spending in a showdown at this week’s summit in Wales.

They are backed by British military chiefs who accused underspending members of freeloading.

The US president and the Prime Minister will call on European leaders to do more to defend the continent from its growing threats by meeting commitments to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defence.

Nato members at the two-day meeting in Newport will debate how to cope with crises in Ukraine and Iraq.

The White House said military spending was a “top priority”. But diplomats believe that the plea will be rejected by countries who complain they are still emerging from recession and refuse to be held to an “arbitrary” spending target.

Currently only four Nato members reach the two per cent target, including Britain and America. Britain, however, has refused to commit to the target after this parliament and defence chiefs fear the military budget could dip below the two per cent mark soon.

Former senior military commanders said last night that Nato allies must shoulder their share of the military burden and stop relying on others to prop them up.

Lord West, a former head of the Navy, said: “People in a number of countries have been willing to get a free ride and are not spending. If you look at Europe, it’s only France and the UK who meet the target.

“Nato has to realise that it’s no good having a broken force.

“Putin and other countries think they are talking the talk but they are not walking the walk. It’s just bluff.

“It does mean that he thinks they are not really serious about holding their own on the world stage.”

Lord Dannatt, a former head of the Army, said Europe’s failure to fund its forces led many Americans to question “why Europe cannot stand on its own security feet”.

He said: “The sad fact is that with the exception of a small number of European Nato member states — which include the UK and France principally — the vast majority of the armed forces of other European states lack real usable capability and their governments often lack the political will to fund their armed forces properly.”

Diplomatic sources said there was little hope of major European powers pledging big spending increases.

Any summit agreement will fall back on vague language of “aiming to” meet the two per cent target.

In pointed remarks last week, Mr Obama said the summit had to “make sure every country is contributing”.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, said earlier this year increasing defence spending from 1.3 per cent could create misunderstandings with Russia. The Canadian government has also baulked at the rise from its current level of one per cent.

Robert Menendez, the hawkish Democrat chair of the US Senate foreign relations committee, urged Mr Obama and the West to provide Ukraine with “defensive weapons”.

“Thousands of Russian troops are here with tanks, missiles, heavy artillery,” he told the US broadcasters CNN in Ukraine. Mr Putin had “sized up the West” and determined that tough sanctions and military aid would not be forthcoming.

However, Mr Obama and European leaders have ruled out any “military solution” to the crisis in Ukraine.

Meanwhile fighting continued in Ukraine with separatists firing on a border patrol ship in the Azov Sea.

Obama Urged To Get Tougher on Foreign Policy

August 31, 2014

Republicans and Democrats call on president to take harder approach on Russian intervention in Ukraine and Isis in Syria

Obama on his way to a Democratic fundraiser in Newport on Friday.

Obama on his way to a Democratic fundraiser in Newport on Friday. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

Barack Obama was on Sunday urged to take a tougher approach towards Russia and Syria, as Republicans and Democrats returned from their summer vacations in confrontational mood.

After a week in which the president was criticised for failing to develop military plans for tackling Islamic State militants inside Syria and taking a relatively cautious approach to Russian incursions in Ukraine, senior figures in Congress took turns to demand greater US intervention.

Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the foreign relations committee and an administration loyalist, called for the US to arm the Ukrainian military with advanced weapons, that it might defend itself against Russia.

“This is a watershed moment,” said Menendez, speaking from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where he is on the latest of a series of congressional fact-finding visits. “Thousands of Russian troops are here and are directly engaged in what is clearly an invasion.

“We should be providing the Ukrainians with the types of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon [Russian president Vladimir] Putin for further aggression.”

The New Jersey senator dismissed fears that such a step would provoke further aggression from Moscow, and called on European allies to agree significantly tougher economic sanctions, targeting entire industrial sectors such as energy, defence and financial services.

“Weakness is a greater provocation for Putin than strength,” said Menendez, in an interview with CNN.

Asked if he thought the White House was considering such a move, Menendez said: “I think that may very well be on the table right now. These are changed circumstances.”

A similar mood was on display over Syria, with Senate Democrats accusing Obama of failing to take the “extraordinarily dangerous” threat from Isis seriously enough.

On Thursday, asked about possible plans to combat Isis in Syria as well as northern Iraq, Obama told a White House press conference: “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

On Saturday, secretary of state John Kerry used a New York Times op-ed column to call for “a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force” against Isis.

Kerry also said he and defence secretary Chuck Hagel would use next week’s Nato summit in Wales to seek to marshal such international support.

In northern Iraq on Saturday night, air strikes and aid drops brought the total of such US strikes since 8 August to 118.

The drops and strikes were carried out “at the request of the Iraqi government”, according to a statement from US Central Command, with planes from Australia, France and Britain also dropping food, water and supplies.

Central Command said its forces dropped “109 bundles of much-needed humanitarian aid to the people of Amirli, including the Shia Turkomen minority ethnic group”, and “also conducted three airstrikes in coordination with the isolated Iraqi security forces responsible for protecting Amirli”.

The statement added: “Fighter aircraft struck and destroyed three Isis Humvees, one Isis armed vehicle, one Isis checkpoint and one Isis tank near Amirli.”

On Sunday, Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, told NBC: “I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious.”

Feinstein also questioned whether economic sanctions were enough to deter Russian intervention in Ukraine, calling for Kerry to lead direct talks with Putin.

“I think this is deeply personal with him,” she said of Putin. “And I think he’s calling the shots himself. And he’s enjoying intensely high favorability in his country. People say: ‘Well, just wait till the sanctions bite and the economy slips.’ I don’t think so.”

Feinstein added: “The Russians are very brave and very long-suffering. And they will tough out any economic difficulty.”

The Sunday talk shows did give some glimpses of support for Obama’s summer foreign policy decisions, as several influential Democratic figures suggested the White House would soon toughen its stance toward Isis and Russia.

“I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together,” said Feinstein. “And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy.”

Iraq aid drop
Military personnel push a container delivery system bundle of water on to a C-17 Globemaster III plane, for dropping over northern Iraq. Photograph: Staff Sergeant Shawn Nickel/AFP/Getty Images

On CNN, Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives intelligence committee, predicted imminent and far-reaching US intervention in Syria.

“I think we will see action within the next week or so,” he said. “If we are going to go in, we are not just going to drop some bombs, we are going to go in on a long-term basis.”

Several Republicans were even more gung-ho about the need to confront Isis. Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity conference in Dallas that was organised by influential party funders the Koch brothers, presidential hopeful and Texas senator Ted Cruz said: “We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age”.

On CBS on Sunday the Arizona senator John McCain, a persistent critic of Obama’s foreign policy, said of the situation in Ukraine: “For God’s sake, can’t we help these people defend themselves?”

Creating An International Community To Combat ISIS: Obama Has John Kerry In The Lead — Seeking broadest possible coalition of nations

August 31, 2014
  • Kerry described the Islamic group as a ‘unifying threat to a broad array of countries’ in an opinion piece written for The New York Times
  • The Obama administration is said to be considering its next move and may consider expanding U.S. airstrikes
  • Kerry wrote: ‘With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries’
  • Kerry, along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are expected to begin laying the groundwork for talks over a coalition next week
  • Kerry will meet with European allies at the NATO meeting in Wales next week and then fly to the Middle East to drum up further support

By Belinda Robinson

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on the international community to form a coalition to stop the ‘cancer of ISIS from spreading’ in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Kerry described the Islamic group, which has become notorious for beheadings and terror campaigns in the Middle East a ‘unifying threat to a broad array of countries’ and he wants to confront it.

His article comes just days after President Obama faced a backlash over comments he made suggesting that he ‘did not have a strategy’ to deal with the threat of ISIS in Syria.

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Coalition: U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry has called ISIS, 'a cancer that must be stamped out,' in an opinion piece written for The New York Times

Coalition: U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry has called ISIS, ‘a cancer that must be stamped out,’ in an opinion piece written for The New York Times

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738614/U-S-Secretary-State-John-Kerry-calls-international-community-form-coalition-tackle-scourge-ISIS.html#ixzz3Bw4iTFZN
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Coalition: U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry has called ISIS, ‘a cancer that must be stamped out,’ in an opinion piece written for The New York Times

ISIS, also known as The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has forcibly and violently grabbed territory across northern Iraq over the summer.

The Obama administration is said to be considering its next move and may consider expanding U.S. airstrikes.

U.S. airstrikes against ISIS fighters have already slowed their advance.

 

More…

Fanatics: Islamic State fighters parade with group’s black flags. A UN human rights report says the militant group conducts a regular Friday ritual of executions, amputations and lashings in areas it controls

ISIS: A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag the group has become notorious for beheadings and terror campaigns

ISIS: A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag the group has become notorious for beheadings and terror campaigns

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738614/U-S-Secretary-State-John-Kerry-calls-international-community-form-coalition-tackle-scourge-ISIS.html#ixzz3Bw4rT0AL
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Airstrikes: ‘Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world,’ Kerry wrote

He said that any further action would require the aid of America’s international allies.

Kerry wrote: ‘With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries.

John McCain and Lindsey Graham

‘The world can confront this scourge, and ultimately defeat it. ISIS is odious, but not omnipotent.’

ISIS: A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag the group has become notorious for beheadings and terror campaigns

ISIS promise to kill captured Kurds in shocking new video

Mr Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a move that could pave the way for US airstrikes against ISIS militant targets -- and for international coalition-building at the State Department

Airstrikes: ‘Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world,’ Kerry wrote

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738614/U-S-Secretary-State-John-Kerry-calls-international-community-form-coalition-tackle-scourge-ISIS.html#ixzz3Bw5VMtP2
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‘Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world,’ Kerry wrote.

In an accompanying piece written for The New York Times by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both want President Obama to take military action to stamp out the terror group’s growing threat.

The senators urged the President to act immediately.

Senator John McCain wants military action to stamp out the terror group's growing threat

Military force: Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, want President Obama to use military action to stamp out the terror group’s growing threat

McCain and Graham suggested that the next move must include a squeezing of ISIS financing.

They are also calling for the Iraqi government to include Iraqi Sunnis, rather than pushing them toward terrorist groups.

‘Ultimately, ISIS is a military force, and it must be confronted militarily,’ the senators wrote.

But the Government has yet to decide what measures it will take.

Senators Mccain and Graham used the piece to criticise the President’s airstrikes saying that ‘they have been tactical and reactive half-measures.’

They wrote: ‘Continuing to confront ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria, would be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We need a military plan to defeat ISIS, wherever it is.’

However, the Secretary of State has echoed the remarks made by the President and Press Secretary Josh Earnest who have both called for an international coalition to fight ISIS.

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Barack Obama this week claimed that an international coalition of willing partners would help root out ISIS once and for all

International intervention: Barack Obama this week claimed that an international coalition of willing partners would help root out ISIS once and for all

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Obama Says Most His Troubles Come From Republicans, He Doesn’t Have a Strategy Because of The Pentagon, No, Social Media Is To Blame!

August 30, 2014

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U.S. President Barack Obama, here speaking at the White House on Thursday, said he doesn’t have a strategy but that a broader strategy is being developed to root Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria. AFP/Getty Images

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday blamed dysfunction in Congress on a Republican Party he said is captive to an ideologically rigid, unproductive and cynical faction, urging like-minded Democrats to show up for November’s midterm elections.

Addressing Democratic donors at a fundraiser in Rhode Island and another in New York, Obama said Republicans had realized that blocking all progress led Americans to become cynical about government. Republicans consider that “a pretty good thing” because they don’t believe in government to begin with, Obama said.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Obama said during a barbecue in Purchase, New York. “There has been a certain cynical genius to what some of these folks have done in Washington.”

Later, at an event in Newport, Rhode Island, he told donors: “The answer to our challenges is actually pretty simple. We need a better Congress.”

The event at Seafair, the gated, crescent-shaped, oceanfront Newport home of businessman Rick Bready and Betty Easton, was expected to raise between $15,000 and $32,400 from each of approximately 60 guests. Also on hand was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. It was the ninth fundraiser Obama attended this year for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

About 250 people paid up to $32,400 to attend the pre-Labor Day fundraiser at the Purchase home of Wall Street consultant Robert Wolf, an Obama fundraiser who has served on White House advisory boards and also plays golf with the president. The money from that event and another in New Rochelle, New York, went to the Democratic National Committee, which is still paying off debt from 2012.

Reflecting on challenges in the U.S. and abroad, Obama called on Democrats to remain engaged in the upcoming elections, arguing that he needs a Congress willing to work with him to be able to confront the troubles people are facing.

“If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart,” Obama said, referring to crises from the Middle East to Europe. “The good news is that American leadership has never been more necessary.”

In a last-minute change, Obama returned to the White House late Friday, interrupting his weekend trip. He had originally planned to overnight in New York before heading on Saturday to the wedding of Sam Kass, Obama’s personal chef, to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama himself made the decision to return to the White House and that it was unrelated to any current events.

Obama planned to travel back to Westchester County in New York on Saturday afternoon to attend the wedding.

The trips come as Obama considers how to respond to the Islamic State terrorist threat and Russia’s apparent invasion of Ukraine.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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Krauthammer: Obama Using the Pentagon as a Scapegoat

On Friday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said President Obama’s indecisiveness—on display yesterday when Obama announced that he didn’t have a strategy for the Islamic State in Syria—is not new. Krauthammer related the president’s apprehension to Obama’s past decisions regarding Afghanistan and Syria.

“This is a president who cannot decide, and on this he obviously cannot decide, but what does he do?” Krauthammer said. “Instinctively, he blames somebody else for the so-called misinterpretation of his thing about strategy…So the president looks for a scapegoat, it’s the Pentagon.” Krauthammer said he thought the Pentagon spokesman bit his tongue about being made into a scapegoat, and instead saluted to the president today when he had the opportunity to respond.

Includes a video:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/386726/krauthammers-take-president-obama-using-pentagon-scapegoat-nro-staff

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Obama: We’re Just Noticing The World is ‘Messy’ Because of Social Media

BY:
August 29, 2014 6:40 pm

The excuses continue to flow from President Obama.

Obama blamed social media and the nightly news for creating the sense that “the world is falling apart” during a Friday evening fundraiser.

The Hill reports:

Acknowledging “the barbarity” of Islamist militants and Russia “reasserting the notion that might means right,” Obama, though, dismissed the notion that he was facing unprecedented challenges.

“The world’s always been messy … we’re just noticing now in part because of social media,” he said, according to a White House pool report.

“If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart,” said Obama.

The president acknowledged that conflicts in the Middle East posed difficulties, “but it’s been challenging for quite a while,” he said.

“We will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past,” Obama added.

The president, looking to strike a reassuring tone, argued that American military superiority has never been greater and that the U.S. still held advantages over potential international rivals like China.

The event, held at the home of Robert Wolf, an occasional Obama golf partner and former president of UBS Investment Bank, was the second of three fundraisers the president was slated to attend on Friday. Tickets to the event began at $15,000 per couple, and around 250 supporters were in attendance.

Islamic State Terrorism Is A Threat to U.S., Europe — Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Says

August 30, 2014

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) at his private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in this June 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool/Files

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) at his private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in this June 27, 2014 file photo.  Credit: Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool/Files

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East, the Saudi state news agency reported late on Friday.

The king made the statement during a reception for foreign ambassadors held in Jeddah.

“I ask you to convey this message to your leaders… Terrorism at this time is an evil force that must be fought with wisdom and speed,” said King Abdullah. “And if neglected I’m sure after a month it will arrive in Europe and a month after that in America.”

The world’s top oil exporter shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Iraq, where Islamic State militants and other Sunni Islamist groups have seized towns and cities.

Riyadh has long expressed fears of being targeted by jihadists, including some of its own citizens, who have taken part in conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this year, it decreed long jail terms for those who travel abroad to fight.

Britain raised its terrorism alert on Friday and Prime Minister David Cameron said Islamic State posed the greatest ever security risk to the country.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

John McCain and Lindsey Graham: We Have a Srategy — Confront ISIS Now

August 30, 2014

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AFTER more than three years, almost 200,000 dead in Syria, the near collapse of Iraq, and the rise of the world’s most sinister terrorist army — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has conquered vast swaths of both countries — President Obama’s admission this week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with this threat is startling. It is also dangerous.

The president clearly wants to move deliberately and consult with allies and Congress as he considers what to do about ISIS. No one disputes that goal. But the threat ISIS poses only grows over time. It cannot be contained. It must be confronted. This requires a comprehensive strategy, presidential leadership and a far greater sense of urgency. If Mr. Obama changes course and adopts a strategic approach to defeat ISIS, he deserves support.

Such a strategy would require our commander in chief to explain to war-weary Americans why we cannot ignore this threat. ISIS is now one of the largest, richest terrorist organizations in history. It occupies a growing safe haven the size of Indiana spanning two countries in the heart of the Middle East, and its ranks are filled with thousands of radicals holding Western passports, including some Americans. They require nothing more than a plane ticket to travel to United States cities.

This is why the secretary of homeland security has called Syria “a matter of homeland security.” His warnings about ISIS have been echoed by the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and, now, the secretary of defense. Americans need to know that ISIS is not just a problem for Iraq and Syria. It is a threat to the United States. Doing too little to combat ISIS has been a problem. Doing less is certainly not the answer now.

It is a truism to say there is no military solution to ISIS. Any strategy must, of course, be comprehensive. It must squeeze ISIS’ finances. It requires an inclusive government in Baghdad that shares power and wealth with Iraqi Sunnis, rather than pushing them toward ISIS. It requires an end to the conflict in Syria, and a political transition there, because the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will never be a reliable partner against ISIS; in fact, it has abetted the rise of ISIS, just as it facilitated the terrorism of ISIS’ predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq. A strategy to counter ISIS also requires a regional approach to mobilize America’s partners in a coordinated, multilateral effort.

But ultimately, ISIS is a military force, and it must be confronted militarily. Mr. Obama has begun to take military actions against ISIS in Iraq, but they have been tactical and reactive half-measures. Continuing to confront ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria, would be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We need a military plan to defeat ISIS, wherever it is.

Such a plan would seek to strengthen partners who are already resisting ISIS: the Kurdish pesh merga, Sunni tribes, moderate forces in Syria, and effective units of Iraq’s security forces. Our partners are the boots on the ground, and the United States should provide them directly with arms, intelligence and other military assistance. This does not, however, mean supporting Iranian military forces, whose presence only exacerbates sectarian tensions that empower ISIS.

We should embed additional United States special forces and advisers with our partners on the ground — not to engage in combat, but to help our partners fight ISIS and direct airstrikes against it. Regional allies should play a key role in this effort. No one is advocating unilateral invasion, occupation or nation-building. This should be more like Afghanistan in 2001, where limited numbers of advisers helped local forces, with airstrikes and military aid, to rout an extremist army.

Still, we must face facts: A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS would require more troops, assets, resources and time. Such an undertaking should involve Congress. We have consistently advocated revising the Authorization for Use of Military Force that has provided congressional backing for counterterrorism operations since September 2001. Now could be the right time to update this authorization in light of evolving terrorist threats like ISIS. If Mr. Obama provides a coherent strategy and determined leadership, he could win Congress’s support.

Whether or not Mr. Obama listens to us, he should listen to leaders with a record of success in combating groups like ISIS, especially John R. Allen, Ryan C. Crocker, Jack Keane and David H. Petraeus, among others. He should consult with military and diplomatic experts like these, just as President George W. Bush did when rethinking the war in Iraq.

One of the hardest things a president must do is change, and history’s judgment is often kind to those who summon the courage to do so. Jimmy Carter changed his policy on the Soviet Union after it invaded Afghanistan. Bill Clinton changed his policy in the Balkans and stopped ethnic cleansing. And George W. Bush changed course in Iraq and saved America from defeat.

ISIS presents Mr. Obama with a similar challenge, and it has already forced him to begin changing course, albeit grudgingly. He should accept the necessity of further change and adopt a strategy to defeat this threat. If he does, he deserves bipartisan support. If he does not, ISIS will continue to grow into an even graver danger to our allies and to us.

Leading From (Way) Behind: Obama Cools Talk of Strikes Against Islamic State in Iraq or Syria

August 29, 2014

 Extremists Killed Nearly 500 This Week in One Syrian Province, Opposition Activists Say

Updated Aug. 28, 2014 9:16 p.m. ET

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, President Barack Obama said that the Islamic State poses a direct threat to Iraq and the region requiring a broad, comprehensive military strategy to confront it.

President Barack Obama signaled the U.S. has no immediate plans to escalate military operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq or Syria, stressing the need to counter the group’s advance while formulating a broader strategy to protect U.S. interests and allies.

Mr. Obama spoke on a day when Syrian opposition activists said the Sunni radical group had killed nearly 500 people since Sunday in the northeastern province of Raqqa, most of them Syrian troops captured on an air base seized by Islamic State fighters.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, President Barack Obama said that the Islamic State poses a direct threat to Iraq and the region requiring a broad, comprehensive military strategy to confront it.

An F/A-18 is launched from USS George HW Bush

President Barack Obama signaled the U.S. has no immediate plans to escalate military operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq or Syria, stressing the need to counter the group’s advance while formulating a broader strategy to protect U.S. interests and allies.

Mr. Obama spoke on a day when Syrian opposition activists said the Sunni radical group had killed nearly 500 people since Sunday in the northeastern province of Raqqa, most of them Syrian troops captured on an air base seized by Islamic State fighters.

The filmed killings are reminiscent of images posted online by militant group Islamic State (pictured), which has seized parts of Iraq and Syra

The president, who met with his national security team Thursday afternoon, said the U.S. is still developing its plan to root Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria, where it has captured large swaths of territory since June.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Mr. Obama said of potential plans for airstrikes in Syria. He said the long-term blueprint to respond to the growth of the militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, can’t depend on U.S. actions alone.

“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick, or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners,” Mr. Obama said.

The president walked back reports suggesting there may be an immediate escalation of military operations, including potential airstrikes in Syria.

“We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans so we’re developing them,” he said. He said he was more focused on military activity in Iraq and the need for a unified government in Baghdad to help combat militant forces. “My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself,” Mr. Obama said.

cat

U.S. President Barack Obama, here speaking at the White House on Thursday, said a broader strategy is being developed to root Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria. AFP/Getty Images

Ultimately, the U.S. is focused on a strategy to create an international coalition to “systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in.”

The president’s comments hastened calls from U.S. lawmakers for the Obama administration to outline its strategy for combating the threat posed by Islamic State.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said “the fact that the president admitted he doesn’t have one should alarm every American.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said it’s imperative for Mr. Obama “to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force.”

While a series of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and humanitarian-aid drops thus far conducted by U.S. forces have had some success in blunting the progress of the fighters, a longer-term strategy needs to be outlined publicly in order to unite the public, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said before Mr. Obama spoke.

Following the speech, the White House clarified Mr. Obama’s remarks about strategy. “The president was asked a specific question about possible military action in Syria against ISIL, and he was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options against ISIL in Syria,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “But when it comes to confronting ISIL in Iraq, the president has been very clear for months about what our comprehensive strategy is.”

The Islamic State put the U.S. on notice with the beheading of James Foley

There have also been increasing calls from Republicans and Democrats for Mr. Obama to seek congressional approval for any escalation of military operations in the region.

Mr. Obama said he would continue to consult with Congress, but insisted that the current operations in Iraq fall under his authority as commander in chief. He said the administration would continue to discuss plans with lawmakers and allowed that “it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in.”

“I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard,” Mr. Obama said.

Video of prisoners captured by Islamic State. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Videos and photographs purporting to show militants killing captured soldiers were posted on social-media websites Thursday. The soldiers were captured when the group took over Tabqa air base on Sunday, giving them control of all of Raqqa—the first Syrian province to come entirely under Islamic State rule.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group tracking the conflict through a network of activists inside Syria, said 160 captured soldiers have been killed since Wednesday. They were among 490 people in Raqqa killed since Sunday, most of them Syrian troops, according to four opposition activists.

None of the reports could be independently verified.

The accounts of the killings came from an activist in Raqqa who witnessed the aftermath with the consent of Islamic State. Other activists operating from the Syrian border with Turkey were in contact with Islamic State militants and Raqqa residents.

In one video, a column of dozens of men identified as soldiers and officers are shown in their underwear being herded through the desert by militants.

Some of the fighters are on foot and others in an accompanying convoy of armed pickup trucks and SUVs. They occasionally hit their captives with the butts of their rifles or forced them to chant in praise of Islamic State.

The Islamic State has drawn foreign fighters into its campaign in Syria and Iraq and some of those who spoke on the videos had accents from various parts of the Middle East.

“Come on like sheep,” says a male voice, who appears to be the videographer in one of the cars, as he laughs and taunts the prisoners. The man spoke with a Gulf Arab accent.

Another video shows men motionless in their underwear lined up face down in a long row in a desert area after their purported killings. Some bodies appear to be piled on the side. Men speaking with a North African accent are heard on this video.

The videos are likely to further enrage supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, especially members of his Alawite minority who are the backbone of the regime’s forces. Many of those supporters are already blaming military leaders for surrendering the air base to Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Some Assad regime supporters expressed their rage Thursday on a Facebook page titled “Eagles of the Tabqa Air Base” set up to pay tribute to the soldiers taken captive by Islamic State and to share news of their fate. A posting by the page’s administrator assails state media for completely ignoring the news. It calls military leaders “traitors for leaving them prey to ISIS monsters.”

There was no immediate comment from Syrian officials on the purported killings.

A third video shows militants interrogating a group of regime soldiers at what activists said was an Islamic State training camp and detention center called Al-Ekershi east of the city of Raqqa—the provincial capital.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey during a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, August 21, 2014. Hagel said Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria posed a threat “beyond anything we’ve seen.” They have been quiet since the end of President Obama’s vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Landov

“You are a lieutenant colonel, an Alawite right?” asks a man behind the camera and speaking with a Tunisian accent. A middle-aged man in torn military fatigues nods his head. “Why are you fighting for the tyrant? Why are you fighting for Bashar?” asks the man behind the camera.

On the same video, a group of men, some in their underwear, sit on the floor in the corner as they are being cursed at and beaten by men speaking with Syrian accents. At the end of the video, the man with the Tunisian accent is heard telling the colonel: “We are going to send you to hell, God willing, we are going to slaughter you.”

The Syrian regime began conducting airstrikes against Islamic State positions in June, but clashes on the ground have been limited. Regime forces are overstretched and weakened by more than three years of civil war and are focusing limited resources on battling rebels around Damascus and the strategic corridor that links the capital with the western coast through the central province of Homs.

The regime’s strategy now hinges on the hope that the West and regional powers will be so horrified by Islamic State’s actions that they will stop backing rebels in their quest to topple Mr. Assad and instead focus on rolling back the threat of the extremist group.

—Jeffrey Sparshott, Colleen McCain Nelson and Mohammad Nour Alakraa contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Crittenden at michael.crittenden@wsj.com and Sam Dagher at sam.dagher@wsj.com

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BY Kate Brannen Gordon Lubold, and John Hudson 

             
Foreign Policy

AUGUST 28, 2014 – 03:02 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry is now President Barack Obama’s point man for drumming up international support to fight the Islamic State, which the administration refers to as ISIL.

Kerry will start his coalition-building tour next week when he meets with his foreign counterparts at the NATO summit in Wales, which starts Thursday, Sept. 4.

He will also head to the Middle East to build up support among regional partners, Obama said Thursday during a briefing at the White House.

“The violence that’s been taking place in Syria has obviously given ISIL a safe haven here in ungoverned spaces, and in order for us to degrade ISIL over the long term, we’re going to have to build a regional strategy,” Obama said.

Since Obama’s administration began humanitarian airdrops and launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq on Aug. 8, the White House has sought help from allies for the fight. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and others have been working the phones to persuade allies to stand with America as it confronts the brutality of the Islamic State in Iraq.

Now that the Obama administration appears to be gearing up to target the Islamic State in Syria too, building an international coalition has become even more important. Unlike in Iraq, U.S. airstrikes will likely not be carried out at the request of or in coordination with the Syrian government.

“As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick, or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners,” Obama said.

For an administration that shuns militarily intervention, the support of allies, from European to Arab nations, is critical. Some experts believe that if Obama sends additional troops into that theater of war, a variety of special operations forces from a number of countries could marry up with forces already deployed there. It would also make any extended mission all the more politically palatable for the White House.

But convincing partners to participate in an operation that could be viewed as benefiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be a difficult diplomatic task.

“A coalition is not a military coalition,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. “It’s a coalition to take on the threat from ISIL. So, there are several components or several roles that countries can play: humanitarian assistance, diplomatic assistance. It’s a decision each country will certainly make.”

In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron has taken fire from members of his own Conservative Party for his reluctance to intervene. But after American journalist James Foley was beheaded at the hands of a militant thought to be a British citizen, the British government has shown more inclination to support America, especially if it is part of a broader coalition. The German government has called U.S. airstrikes the only way to stop the Islamic State fighters, but that was in the context of the humanitarian crisis atop Mount Sinjar. Germany will send to Kurdish defense forces nonlethal military assistance, such as armored cars, protective gear, and sensors to detect improvised explosive devices.

The Obama administration reportedly will wait until after the Wales meeting to decide whether to launch airstrikes in Syria. By that point, the U.S. Congress will be back in session and have had time to weigh in.

But Psaki pushed back on the idea that there is a set timeline. “We want to get this right and make a decision that is right strategically for the United States.”

In the meantime, Hagel and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been tasked by Obama to develop a range options to counter the Islamic State.

On Monday, Aug. 25, the Pentagon began surveillance flights over Syria, according to the New York Times, but it has yet to publicly confirm the mission.

That same day, the Pentagon announced that Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom have committed to providing Kurdish forces arms and equipment.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said more nations are expected to contribute soon.

“This is a long-term mission that is going to involve a lot of heavy lifting, and you do need allies to stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” the Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner told Foreign Policy earlier this month. But, he warned, allies will only stand with Obama if he articulates a clear strategy for defeating the militant group.

Photo by Rob Griffith – Pool/Getty Images

Kate Brannen is a senior reporter covering the defense industry, the influence game on Capitol Hill, and the Pentagon. Prior to joining FP, Kate was a defense reporter for Politico and the author of “Morning Defense,” Politico’s daily national security newsletter.

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/08/28/kerry_leading_coalition_drive_to_confront_islamic_state

U.S. says Russia “has manipulated, obfuscated and outright lied” about Ukraine — Now What?

August 29, 2014

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By Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

The United States told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that Russia has “outright lied” over its military activity inside Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian armed forces.

The accusation came hours before President Obama said the United States “is not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem” but trying to mobilize international pressure on Moscow.

“Russian soldiers, tanks and air defense have supported and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured and fueled by Russia,” Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the council.

She noted that it was not the first time Russia has been called by the council to account for its activities inside Ukraine.

“At every step, Russia has come before this council to say everything but the truth,” Power said. “It has manipulated, obfuscated and outright lied.”

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Photo by REUTERS – Jonathan Ernst

In response, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said, “Everyone knows there are Russian volunteers in eastern Ukraine. No one is hiding it.”

He said the conflict was Ukraine’s fault, calling it the “direct consequence of the reckless policy of Kiev, which is conducting a war against its own people.”

Rather than blame Russia, he said, the United States should “restrain your geopolitical ambitions. Countries around the world would breathe a sigh of relief.”

The Ukrainian envoy, Oleksandr Pavlichenko, accused Russia of intentionally undermining peace efforts.

Churkin asked if Kiev’s demand for separatists to disarm was an attempt to provoke more violence.

Pavlichenko replied that Kiev is “ready to engage on a whole range of issues” and the only non-negotiable issues are Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its “European aspirations.”

At the White House, Obama ruled out a U.S. military response.

“It is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region,” he said during a 30-minute news conference.

He said he did not see the moves of the past week as an invasion but “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … not really a shift.”

“This is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine,” he said. “The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia. … We’ve seen deep Russian involvement in everything they’ve done.”

He echoed Ukrainian claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully.

“We have not seen any meaningful action on the part of Russia to actually try to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion,” Obama said.

He spoke earlier in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the Russian incursion, and both agreed the United States and European Union would have to consider expanding sanctions on Moscow, the White House said in a statement.

The U.N. Security Council convened the emergency meeting hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who will meet with Obama at the White House next month, declared that “Russian forces have entered Ukraine” in support of separatist rebels.

The meeting, called by Lithuania, followed charges Thursday by NATO officials of a significant increase of Russian military activity — including evidence of combat soldiers — in eastern Ukraine. Russia has strongly denied such allegations.

“Russia has to stop lying and has to stop fueling this conflict,” Power said. “The mask is coming off. In these recent acts, we see Russia’s actions for what they are — a deliberate effort to support and now fight alongside illegal separatists in another sovereign country.”

Power said Russia’s actions in the past 48 hours “have spoken volumes,” and she called on the Security Council to take immediate action.

“How can we tell those countries that border Russia that their peace and sovereignty is guaranteed if we do not make our message heard on Ukraine?” she asked the council. “The cost of inaction is unacceptable.”

Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, opened the Security Council meeting by saying its immediate focus “must be to find ways to reverse the dangerous escalation of fighting that has occurred over the past 24 hours and move quickly away from armed conflict and toward political solutions and dialogue.”

Worried moms: Probe of Russian troops deaths?

Ukraine has charged that at least two convoys of Russian military equipment entered southeastern Ukraine this week to open up a third front in the fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern regions.

More than 2,000 people have died in clashes in eastern Ukraine, according to a recent U.N. report. Russian-backed rebels have declared two regions as independent republics and the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk have been largely surrounded by Ukrainian forces.

Includes video:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/08/28/ukraine-town-under-rebel-control/14724767/


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