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Kerry: International Coalition Will Defeat Islamic State

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad on September 10.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad on September 10.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the international community will not idly watch the Islamic State (IS) militant group grow, naming Iraq as a key partner in the fight against the militant group.

Speaking on September 10 at a news conference in Baghdad, Kerry said the international community had "an interest in supporting the new government of Iraq at this particular critical junction."

Kerry said that "the coalition that is at the heart of our global strategy" will "continue to grow and deepen in the days ahead," and that it "will ultimately defeat" the militants.

However, when asked about whether Washington and Iran would cooperate against Islamic State, Kerry said that "the United States does not cooperate militarily or otherwise" with Iran and does not have any intention to do so.

Kerry also said that a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama later on September 10 "will lay out with great specificity each component of a broad strategy of how to deal with" Islamic State.

'Stop This Cancer'

Kerry met earlier on September 10 with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, where he expressed U.S. support for eliminating the extremist group and the threat it poses to the whole Middle East.

Abadi's government was approved by parliament this week after international pressure for a national unity cabinet to be formed to bridge sectarian divisions and take on the militant organization.

Speaking in front of reporters, Kerry told Abadi he was "encouraged" by his plans for "reconstituting" the military and his "commitment to broad reforms that are necessary in Iraq to bring every segment of Iraqi society to the table."

He highlighted Abadi's readiness to “move forward rapidly” on the representation of Sunni Arabs in “government and participation.”

At the end of his meeting with Kerry, Abadi called for the international community to help Iraq fight Islamic State, urging them "to act immediately to stop the spread of this cancer."

He said there was "a role for the international community, for the United Nations" in tackling the threat from IS in Syria.

Meanwhile, influential Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Iraq should "cooperate with the neighboring countries and its allies, but not with the occupiers."

Coalition Building

Kerry’s visit is part of a regional tour to launch a diplomatic offensive aimed at boost military, political, and financial support for the fight against IS militants who control large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

It will include Saudi Arabia, where Kerry will join representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council on September 11.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to set out a strategy to defeat IS in a speech late on September 10, hours before commemorations for the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Obama told congressional leaders on September 9 that he had authority to widen military action against IS militants without the approval of Congress.

But said he would ask lawmakers to quickly authorize the arming and training of more moderate Syrian opposition groups.

The president could also order broader U.S. air strikes against IS targets in Iraq and expanding those strikes to Syria.

IS militants have carried out a brutal campaign in areas they have captured, executing many non-Muslims but also Shi'ite Muslims.

In the past month, they have beheaded two American journalists in what they call revenge for U.S. air strikes on its forces in Iraq.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and the BBC