Asserting that the US has a full-fledged policy against the Islamic State which has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the terrorist group must be defeated.
“ISIL must be defeated, period, end of story. And collectively, we are all going to be measured by how we carry out this mission,” Kerry told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIL.
The hearing was interrupted by anti-war protestors inside the Congressional hearing.
Responding to questions, Kerry said the US cannot achieve this goal alone. “The United States will not go it alone. That has been a fundamental principle in which President (Barack) Obama has sought to organise this effort. And that is why we are building a coalition, a global coalition,” he said.
“There are more than 50 countries that already have agreed or are now doing something. Not every country will decide that their role is to have some kind of military engagement. But every country can do something,” he added.
The globe tottering Kerry said that as he traveled around the region and Europe in the last days, the question that foreign leaders were asking him was not whether they should join the coalition, but how they can help.
“We’re also, and I emphasize this, we’re not starting from scratch. This is an effort that we have been building over time, both on our own and with the help of our international partners,” he said.
“Even before President Obama delivered his speech last week, nearly 40 countries had joined in contributing to the effort to strengthen the capacity of Iraq, to be able to strengthen its military, to train, to provide humanitarian assistance. We’ve been focused on ISIL since its inception as the successor to al-Qaeda of Iraq in 2013,” he said.
“At its core, our strategy is centered on a global coalition that will collaborate closely across a number of specific areas, including direct and indirect military support. Military assistance can come in a range of forms from training and equipping to logistics and airlift, and countries from inside and outside of our region are already, right now, providing that support in these venues,” he said.
Noting that this is neither a Gulf War in 1991, nor the Iraq war of 2003, Kerry said US ground troops will not be sent into combat in this conflict.
“From the last decade, we know that a sustainable strategy is not US ground forces; it is enabling local forces to do what they have to do for themselves and for their country,” he said.
Kerry said the military action will end only when they have ended the capacity of ISIL to engage in broad-based terrorist activity that threatens the state of Iraq, threatens the United States, threatens the region.
“That’s our goal. That means ending their ability to live in ungoverned spaces, have a safe haven and be able to control territory and move at will to try to attack the United States or other places,” he said.
“The threat, obviously, right now is more immediate to the Middle East and to Europe, but we have Americans over there fighting with passports,” Kerry added.