U.S. President Barack Obama has told Congress leaders that he had all authority to sanction operations he was planning against Islamic State militants.
Mr. Obama met a group of Congressional leadership ahead of his address to the nation during which he would announce U.S. strategy to deal with ISIS threat.
“The President told the leaders that he has the authority he needs to take action against ISIS in accordance with the mission he will lay out in his address tomorrow night.
“He reiterated his belief that the nation is stronger and our efforts more effective when the President and Congress work together to combat a national security threat like ISIS,” a White House statement said.
Mr. Obama told the leaders that he would welcome action by the Congress that would aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the U.S. is united in defeating the threat from ISIS, the statement said.
At the White House, Mr. Obama met John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of representatives; Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and the Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell.
“The Speaker said the spread of radicalised Islam is a global epidemic and our national objective must be to defeat and destroy ISIS. He asked the President to define success in those terms when he addresses the nation tomorrow night,” an aide to the Speaker said.
Mr. Boehner expressed support for certain options that have been proposed by the President, such as increasing the effectiveness of the Iraqi Security Forces and training and equipping the Syrian opposition.
“The Speaker made it clear that ISIS is preparing to fight us, and that as we learned in Syria, the longer we wait, the more difficult our choices become. It is in the best interests of the U.S. and our allies to put in place a strategy that rises to the challenge of the threat we face, and takes the fight directly to ISIS in a decisive fashion,” the aide quoted the Speaker as saying.
According to the aide, Mr. Boehner said he would support the President if he chose to deploy the military to help train and play an advisory role for the Iraqi Security Forces and assist with lethal targeting of ISIS leadership.
“The Speaker made clear that the administration should re-examine our border and homeland policies and authorities to determine whether there are loopholes or weaknesses that could expose the homeland to an immediate ISIL-linked attack,” the aide said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John Cornyn in a statement urged the President to go beyond the rhetoric and offer a clear explanation of the U.S. military and strategic objectives.
“I urge him to explain how and why the Islamic State poses a dangerous threat to U.S. national security interests, which I believe it does. I believe he thinks it does. So I hope he will explain it to the American people so they can understand it,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Iraq faces existential threat from Islamic State: White House
The U.S. has said Iraq is facing an “existential threat” from the Islamic State militants, warning that the failure of the new Iraqi government to unite the country would threaten the whole nation.
“Iraq faces an existential threat from ISIL. If (the new Iraqi Government) they fail to unite that country to meet that threat, it undermines and threatens the government and the nation as a whole,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.It is clearly in the interest of Iraq’s political leaders to govern in an inclusive way, Mr. Earnest said, adding that the American interests in the region are “undoubtedly under direct threat from ISIL”.
“Without the intervention of the United States military to blunt the advance on Erbil, there was a grave risk of Americans who are working in our consulate in Erbil, that they could have been overrun by ISIL fighters. That is certainly something that we’re concerned about,” he said.
“It does threaten American national security interests for ISIL to be operating in a virtual safe haven along the vanishing border between Iraq and Syria,” he said.