As strategy firms up, U.S. courts partners to target ISIS

Obama calls for anti-ISIS NATO coalition
Obama calls for anti-ISIS NATO coalition

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    Obama calls for anti-ISIS NATO coalition

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Obama calls for anti-ISIS NATO coalition 02:24

Story highlights

  • Official: Obama will meet with Congress next week about ISIS
  • U.S. is signing up partners to challenge ISIS
  • Goals are laid out at meeting
  • World leaders discussing need for unity against group
A meeting of foreign ministers at the close of the NATO summit in Wales gave the world its first look at how the United States and international partners plan to engage with the terrorist threat of ISIS beyond Iraq.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosted the meeting Friday, along with officials from the United Kingdom, to discuss the threat of ISIS. On hand were representatives from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Turkey.
After the meeting, President Barack Obama made his strongest remarks yet on U.S. strategy against ISIS, the radical Islamic organization that calls itself the Islamic State and is called ISIL by some U.S. government officials, including the President.
In his remarks, Obama highlighted strategies the United States has used in fighting terrorists abroad in the past.
"We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, the same way that we have gone after al Qaeda," the President said. "You narrow their scope of action. You slowly shrink the space, the territory that they may control. You take out their leadership. And over time, they are not able to conduct the same kinds of terrorist attacks as they once could."
Administration officials also have continuously stressed that any actions taken against ISIS must include international partners in order to be effective. On Friday the President sounded optimistic about the strength of such a coalition.
"What we can accomplish is to dismantle this network," said Obama. "I'm pleased to see that there's unanimity among our friends and allies that that is a worthy goal and they are prepared to work with us in accomplishing that goal."
The President also discussed increased support for rebel groups fighting ISIS on the ground in Syria.
"We are going to have to find effective partners on the ground to push back against ISIL and the moderate coalition there is one that we can work with. We have experience working with many of them. They have been, to some degree, outgunned and outmanned, and that's why it's important for us to work with our friends and allies to support them more effectively."
The White House also wants to get American politicians on board with its approach. Obama will meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday to discuss what to do about ISIS, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office said.
Still, international cooperation is seen as vital as well -- hence the NATO meeting.
Officials at this gathering laid out specific goals for destroying the threat of ISIS, such as halting the flow of foreign fighters into their ranks, an end to funding through trade in petroleum products, more military support for Iraqi forces and assailing the ideology behind ISIS.
Kerry and Hagel are expected to continue their work building a coalition in the weeks ahead as they visit the Middle East and seek to find partners closer to the ground in Syria and Iraq.
No specific commitments aired
Kerry gave NATO participants a deadline of late September to signal involvement, when Obama will be leading the U.N. Security Council meeting focusing on the threat of foreign terrorism at the UN General Assembly.
Although Turkey was the only neighboring country in the region to attend the NATO meeting, administration officials say that outreach to regional partners is ongoing.
"The secretary's been on the phone and in contact with his partners from places like Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar," State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told CNN on Thursday.
The United Arab Emirates signaled its willingness to participate in a coalition.
" ... It is important that this strategy does not stop with Iraq and Syria, but seeks to tackle the phenomenon of terrorism wherever it arises. Only through such a unified effort will it be possible to combat terrorist groups and put a stop to their violence.''
The United States has taken the lead in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq with other European countries providing humanitarian assistance and weapon supplies.
As the summit in Wales wrapped up, world leaders with representatives at the meeting started to make the case for further involvement, without definitively committing to additional actions.
"If there is a global threat, then there has to be a global response to the threat," French President François Hollande said. "It's a direct threat to us, to all of us because there are fighters coming from all countries, including France."
"They should be very clear, these terrorists: their threats will only harden our resolve to stand up for our values and to defeat them," British Prime Minister David Cameron said. "To do so -- and to deal with all the threats we face -- our great alliance must now evolve and refocus on the new capabilities that we need to keep our people safe."
No boots on the ground
As other European countries start to contemplate the use of more force against ISIS, one thing remains clear -- no one is ready to start talking about deploying troops.
"We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own," Kerry said. "Obviously, I think that's a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott echoed this sentiment earlier in the week, while also describing the moral imperative to stop ISIS and the violence it has brought to the region.
"Like President Obama, Australia has no intention to commit combat troops on the ground. But we're not inclined to stand by in the face of preventable genocide either. Australia is not a country that goes looking for trouble but we have always been prepared to do what we can to help in the wider world."
Kerry stressed the essential role NATO leaders must play, not just in the current threat from ISIS, but from terrorist groups around the world.
"I think this could become conceivably a model that can help us with Boko Haram, could help us with Al-Shabaab, with other groups if we can do this successfully, and NATO needs to think of it that way as we consider sort of our role in this new world we're living in."