President Barack Obama will deliver an address to the nation at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night, outlining a strategy to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL).
The White House just released the first bit of excerpts of Obama’s speech:
“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
“But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism 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.”
Obama is expected to outline a comprehensive strategy that includes expanding an ongoing air campaign against ISIS, including going more on “offence” against the group’s targets in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria. He’ll also discuss ramped-up U.S. support for forces on the ground battling ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, while making painstakingly clear that no U.S. troops will be sent back into combat.
Obama will also announce the support of a variety of allies to fight ISIS, including partners in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled Wednesday to Iraq and Jordan, and Obama talked on the phone with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. The White House said the two agreed on “need for increased training and equipping of the moderate Syrian opposition.”
As part of Obama’s plan to confront the group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL), the administration is requesting that Congress include so-called “Title 10” authority under the U.S. code. It would allow the U.S. to ramp up assistance to moderate groups fighting both ISIS and the regime of Bashar Assad in the three-year Syrian civil war.
The administration is on a full-court press with members of Congress on Wednesday. A senior administration official said both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were making calls to members, and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco is on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers. The administration believes its request needs to be tackled now and that the continuing resolution is the best mechanism by which to complete it.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), whose committee the spending bill runs through, told reporters he’d received a call from Obama on Tuesday evening. He said he personally thought it should be voted on separately from the continuing resolution. It’s not yet clear if such a request from Obama could pass through either the House or Senate, given the bipartisan concern that any arms provided to moderate rebels could fall into the wrong hands.
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