The latest NATO summit was the venue for the member countries and associated allies to hone strategy against the radical Sunni militant group calling itself ISIL, or Islamic State, operating in Iraq and Syria.
President Obama described how an international coalition will work in concert towards a strategy:
“Already allies have joined us in Iraq, where we have stopped ISIL’s advances. We’ve equipped our Iraqi partners and helped them go on offence. NATO has agreed to play a role in providing security and humanitarian assistance to those who are on the front lines. Key NATO allies stand ready to confront this terrorist threat through military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic efforts.”
Obama’s suggestion is to reduce ISIL’s control of areas and then defeat it. To achieve that, the support of countries in the region is crucial, notably the support of non-NATO Iran. Its forces have already advised the Iraqis and Iranian pilots have carried out air combat operations against ISIL. NATO member Turkey also has a central role.
Turkey has thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees on its territory. Ankara scope of action, however, may be constrained — complicated by the kidnapping of 49 Turkish diplomats and their families in Mosul in June.
Arab nations’ foreign affairs ministers agreed on Sunday in Cairo to take necessary measures with the whole international community to confront the Islamic State jihadists. Lebanon and Jordan lie in the very heart of the danger.
Obama has made clear the Americans will not go against ISIL alone; Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers are deployed on the ground.
Steps are being taken to cut the insurgents’ supply lines, including finance, to prevent foreign fighters from getting into Syria and Iraq to join ISIL, and to inhibit and dismantle its information and propaganda networks.
The US president will address his nation this Wednesday to lay out more of his ideas on how to counter the Islamist group, in a bid to allay public fears.