John Kerry visits Iraq to build regional support against Islamic State

Thursday, September 11, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad yesterday to meet Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister of the new Iraqi government. The visit came as Kerry toured seeking support in the region — military, political, and financial — against the Islamic State. File:Haidar Al-Abadi.jpg

Haider Al-Abadi.
Image: RedWolf343.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Kerry and al-Abadi were to discuss international efforts to build a coalition, in a regional approach to the security issue posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. The meeting came ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's televised address, to air later in the day in the U.S. and set to announce expanded military efforts to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the organisation.

They were to "discuss how the United States can increase its support to Iraq's new government in our common effort to defeat Isil [Islamic State] and the threat it poses to Iraq, the region, and the world", said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. The Shia Iraqi prime minister has, according to U.S. officials, promised to create regional national guards, avoiding security enforcement by the mostly Shia Iraqi army in Sunni regions. The policy, if enacted, would provide valuable employment in areas where Islamic State has recruited successfully following economic neglect during the eight years of Nouri al-Maliki's government.

Following the Iraq visit Kerry is to visit Saudi Arabia as part of the broad U.S. strategy of regional resistance against the militants. President Obama has said the U.S. would not use ground combat troops, but some senior military figures have suggested Islamic State may not be stopped by air strikes alone — of which the U.S. have used 150 over the past month. The regional strategy to address the security crisis does not rely on the support of Congress. The U.S. administration has been urging representatives to approve $500m to support rebels in Syrian opposing Islamic State, but the legislation has been immobile since it was first proposed in May.