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Barack Obama Iraq ISIS Syria

ISIS speech

10 Sep, 2014

Obama addresses the nation in a televised speech on ISIS from the State Floor of the White House (full text). He says the U.S. will take action against terrorists wherever they are:

First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.  Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.  Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.

The U.S. personnel deployed to Iraq in June have completed their mission of supporting the security forces now that the country has formed a new government, and an additional 475 servicemembers will be sent to provide training, intelligence and equipment to Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The U.S. will also support the development of National Guard units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

Congress must authorize assistance to Syrian opposition:

In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost.  Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.

The U.S. will chair an international summit under the UN banner to mobilize international support and to provide humanitarian aid to Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as religious minorities:

Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off [ISIS’s] funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.

The strategy depends on engagement with the international community and support from the U.S.’s coalition partners:

Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity.  And in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria, to drive these terrorists from their lands.

Congressional support will be welcomed:

My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home.  I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

The conflict will not be another Iraq war:

It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.  This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.  This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.  And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year:  to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.