US Kerry seeks allies against Islamic State

تم نشره في Wed 10 September / Sep 2014. 12:23 PM
  • Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed to govern for all Iraqis during his swearing in on Monday


US Secretary of State John Kerry has landed in Baghdad in Iraq at the start of a Middle East tour to build support for action against Islamic State (IS).

Mr Kerry is due to meet new Iraqi PM Haidar al-Abadi less than 48 hours after a unity government was agreed.

An inclusive government was a condition for greater US and Nato support in the fight against IS militants who have taken over large parts of the country.

President Barack Obama is due to outline his plans to combat IS later.

He said on Tuesday that he had authority to widen military action against IS without the approval of Congress, but said he would still ask lawmakers to endorse the arming of Syrian opposition forces.

IS militants have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq in recent months and have declared a "caliphate".

The US has already conducted dozens of airstrikes on IS targets in the past month, in an effort to protect ethnic and religious minorities threatened by IS.

IS militants described the beheadings of two US journalists as a protest against the strikes.

Saudis 'main target'

Mr Kerry's regional visit which will continue in Saudi Arabia and other regional capitals, where he is hoping to boost military, political and financial support for the fight against IS.

Iraqi MPs approved members of Mr Abadi's new cabinet on Monday, paving the way for the creation of a new government.

The US had insisted on the formation of an administration which did more to address the grievances of the Sunni and Kurdish minorities to allow the creation of a united front against IS.

The previous mostly Shia government of Nouri Maliki was considered to be too narrowly sectarian.

But despite US interest in Iraq's internal affairs, a senior state department official told the BBC that Mr Kerry will mostly talk to leaders here about Baghdad's role in the global coalition.

Where regional powers stand

  • Iran: Calls for co-operation against IS, turns a blind eye to US military action
  • Syria: Assad government opposed to IS, but US prefers to support moderate rebel groups fighting them
  • Turkey: Opposes IS, but opposition muted by concern for 49 Turkish diplomats and their families kidnapped by IS in Mosul in June
  • Saudi Arabia: Key supporter of Syrian rebels, including Islamists, but denies direct support for IS

Islamic State: What key countries think

Meanwhile the Saudi ambassador in London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, rejected suggestions that his government was supporting or funding IS.

"It is the lack of international involvement that has paved the way for terrorist-affiliated movements to breed within Syria, and now Iraq," he said in a statement.

"We have previously urged the international community to take an in-depth look at the financial backing and organisational structure of this terrorist organisation.

"Had this been carried out it would have been revealed that rather than being the instigator of such terrorist network Saudi Arabia is in fact the main target."

Mr Obama discussed his strategy to combat IS with leaders from Democrat and Republican parties at the White House on Tuesday. A spokesman said the talks were "productive".

The meeting with Congressional leaders came a year after lawmakers blocked Mr Obama's previous plans for missile strikes against Syria.

Mr Obama has ruled out the possibility of a US ground operation against IS but has signalled he may expand airstrikes to include Syria.

John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives and one of Mr Obama's chief political adversaries, told the president he would back a US military deployment to train and advise the Iraqi security forces and assist in the targeting of IS leaders, an aide to the House speaker said in a statement to the BBC.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a large majority of the American public views Islamic State as a serious threat to the US and widely supports air strikes in Iraq and Syria.