U.S.-Arab states coordinate action on ISIS

The meeting comes hours after Obama unveiled his strategy to counter the militant group

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a series of meetings with his Arab counterparts in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Thursday to coordination military and other forms of action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

A joint -Arab communique said the countries agreed, as appropriate, to join in “many aspects” of the military campaign against ISIS.


Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to “do their share” in the fight against ISIS.

The 10 countries pledged to stop the flow of funds and fighters to ISIS and help rebuild affected communities.

The meetings came hours after President Barack Obama unveiled his strategy to counter the militant group, which has occupied swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

In addition to “sustained” military airstrikes, the Obama administration is also looking to dry up the sources of funding for ISIS, especially donation money coming from individuals who are sympathetic with the group and who are based in neighboring wealthy Gulf states.

The United States also seeks Gulf cooperation, especially Saudi Arabia, in providing support and training to the moderate Syria opposition forces known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The FSA would need to be empowered to counter both ISIS and the brutal forces of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Shortly after Obama’s speech, Kerry released a statement saying: “We are already well underway in the effort to assemble the coalition to get the job done.”

“We are uniting the world against a unified threat, and the President's strategy will succeed because doing it with allies and partners isn't just smart, it's strong,” Kerry added.


But while a military campaign against ISIS in Iraq seems clear, how the Obama administration will tackle the militant group in Syria, without a green light from the United Nations, remains unclear.

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Russia has said that unilateral U.S. airstrikes on jihadists in Syria would be a crude violation of international law.

“The U.S. President has directly announced the possibility of strikes by American armed forces against positions of the Islamic State in Syria without the consent of its legal government,” said Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry.

“In the absence of an appropriate decision of the U.N. Security Council, such a step would become an act of aggression, a crude violation of the norms of international law,” Lukashevich said in televised remarks.


British Prime Minister David Cameron has not ruled out military action against ISIS in Syria, his spokesman said on Thursday after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would not take part in any air strikes there, according to Reuters.

“In terms of air power, the prime minister has not ruled anything out and that is the position,” Cameron’s spokesman said.

After a meeting in Berlin earlier on Thursday, Hammond and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference they would not be taking part in air strikes in Syria against Islamic State.

Asked about Obama’s proposal for air strikes against ISIS in Syria, Hammond replied: “Let me be clear: Britain will not be taking part in any air strikes in Syria. We have already had that discussion in our parliament last year and we won’t be revisiting that position.”

[With Reuters and AFP]

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