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Tags: obama | isis | speech

Tougher Steps Pledged by Obama to Combat Islamic State Militants

Sunday, 07 September 2014 09:24 AM EDT

President Barack Obama said he’ll “start going on some offense” against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria with a strategy that will count on Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations to take leading roles.

Obama, criticized by his political opponents for saying he didn’t have a strategy for dealing with IS, said in an interview on NBC’s “ Meet the Press” to be aired today that he’ll describe “what our game plan’s going to be going forward” in a speech Sept. 10. He said the plan will require more resources short of deploying U.S. ground troops.

“What I want people to understand, though, is that over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL,” the president said, using another acronym for Islamic State, according to a transcript of the interview.

“We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We’re going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately we’re going to defeat them.”

The 28 members of the NATO military alliance said in their annual summit last week that they are prepared to join the fight against Islamic State because it poses a threat to Europe and North America. Obama urged Arab states to join the battle as well, saying they should realize Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, poses a more immediate threat to them than Iran.

“We’re going to need Sunni states to step up,” he said, naming Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. “This is their neighborhood” and the “dangers that are posed are more directed at them right now than they are us.”

The speech would come the day before the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Obama said he’ll ask Congress for “buy in” to the program and more money for the Pentagon to carry it out.

New Host

Obama’s appearance on “Meet the Press” came on the first day the program was led by new host Chuck Todd. In the 30-minute interview, Obama explained his rationale for delaying executive action to alter U.S. immigration policies. And he said that while the current outbreak of Ebola in Africa needs to be contained, it doesn’t pose an imminent threat to the U.S.

He suggested more international resources be directed at Ebola and said U.S. personnel could be used in Africa to tighten security at hospitals treating Ebola patients.

“What we have is what should be a containable problem breaking loose because people aren’t being quarantined properly,” Obama said. “We’re going to have to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there, to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.”

Ebola ‘Controllable’

“If we do that, then it’s still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa,” Obama added. “But it shouldn’t reach our shores.”

Obama acknowledged a recent misstep in his handling of the videotaped beheading by Islamic State of American journalist James Foley, saying he “should’ve anticipated the optics” when he went to play golf shortly after making a statement about the death.

“Part of this job is also the theater of it,” Obama said. “It’s not something that always comes naturally to me.”

© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

President Barack Obama said he'll "start going on some offense" against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria with a strategy that will count on Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations to take leading roles.Obama, criticized by his political opponents for saying he didn't...
obama, isis, speech
Sunday, 07 September 2014 09:24 AM
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