AFP – “All bases are covered” in a multinational coalition effort against the Islamic State, top US diplomat John Kerry says, as Washington harnesses diplomatic and public support to smash the militants. That’s why the secretary of state is now just continuing his efforts to travel throughout the region to get others to join us in this effort.
Washington – AFP – “All bases are covered” in a multinational coalition effort against the Islamic State, top US diplomat John Kerry says, as Washington harnesses diplomatic and public support to smash the militants.
Secretary of State Kerry told CBS’s Face the Nation, in an interview aired Sunday, that there were allies willing to join the United States in air strikes on the IS, which has overrun large swaths of northern Iraq and Syria in a brutal and lightning campaign.
“Some” had offered to put troops on the ground to defeat IS, Kerry said, adding: “But we are not looking for that at this moment anyway.”
Kerry was speaking in Cairo on Saturday, before news of the latest IS beheading of a Western hostage, Briton David Haines, and ahead of a likely Congress vote this week on President Barack Obama’s plan to train and equip Syrian rebels, a key plank in his strategy to destroy IS.
That strategy was outlined on Wednesday by Obama in a primetime speech to the nation in which he announced expanded US air strikes in Iraq against IS and said he envisaged new action against the group in Syria.
Obama plans to train “moderate” Syrian rebels to take on IS and to reconstitute the Iraqi army, parts of which fled an IS blitzkrieg across northern and western Iraq.
Kerry, who is touring the Middle East drumming up support for the US-led coalition, told CBS that allies in the Middle East and beyond were ready to help in the battle against the IS, which has executed two American reporters in videos which sparked revulsion and condemnation.
“Every single aspect of the president’s (Obama) strategy, and what is needed to be done in order to accomplish our goal, has been offered by one country or multiple countries, and all bases are covered,” Kerry told CBS.
Opposition forces would do the fighting on the ground in Syria, augmented by US and allied air support, he said, adding that Washington would not coordinate air attacks on the militants with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad but would ensure their forces do not come into conflict.
“We will certainly want to deconflict and make certain that they’re (Syria) not about to do something that they might regret even more seriously,” Kerry said in the interview.
“But we’re not going to coordinate, it’s not a cooperative effort.”
– What is success? –
Obama’s announcement to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS has drawn a skeptical response in Washington, with critics noting that even Al-Qaeda has not been eradicated, despite a 13-year US-led war against it.
War-weary Democrats worry that maximalist US goals could suck the United States back into intractable Middle East ground wars, while Republicans criticized the president for not going far enough, having consistently ruled out US troops on the ground.
Speaking on Sunday in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough attempted to clarify Washington’s goals.
“Success looks like an ISIL that no longer threatens our friends in the region, no longer threatens the United States,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State, which has declared a “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.
“An ISIL that can’t accumulate followers, or threaten Muslims in Syria, Iran, Iraq, or otherwise. And that’s exactly what success looks like.”
Polls show US public sentiment swinging sharply behind US action since the IS posted a videotape showing the beheading of US hostage James Foley last month. But they also show the American public still appears doubtful that the president’s strategy will work.
“This is obviously a complicated effort,” said McDonough. “And that’s why the president is going about this in a very painstaking, and very prudent fashion.
“That’s why the secretary of state is now just continuing his efforts to travel throughout the region to get others to join us in this effort. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to lead an international effort against ISIL.
“But this is not going to be easy.”