Newspaper article International New York Times

Obama Asks Mideast Allies to Step Up ISIS Fight ; President Singles out Nations in the Region to Increase Contributions

Newspaper article International New York Times

Obama Asks Mideast Allies to Step Up ISIS Fight ; President Singles out Nations in the Region to Increase Contributions

Article excerpt

In remarks to reporters after his national security team met at the Pentagon, the president called on regional allies to help more in pushing back the Islamic State.

President Obama has called on Middle East allies to do more in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, signaling a growing frustration within the administration that Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region have yet to help the United States build up a Syrian Arab coalition of ground forces to push back the militant group in Syria.

Even though Mr. Obama said on Monday that Islamic State militants had lost around 40 percent of the populated areas they once controlled in Iraq, he also said that progress against the group by the American-led coalition "needs to keep coming faster," in a tacit acknowledgment that the American public may not be up for the slow, painstaking approach the administration had initially envisioned.

In remarks to reporters after his national security team met Monday morning at the Pentagon, Mr. Obama, flanked by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, singled out allies in the region to do more.

"Just as the United States is doing more in this fight, just as our allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy are doing more, so must others," he said, pointedly leaving out America's Sunni Arab allies who are part of the coalition against the Islamic State. "And that is why I have asked Secretary Carter to go to the Middle East -- he'll depart right after this press briefing -- to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight."

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the creation of a 34-nation Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, which includes several countries that have been helping the Saudis fight rebels in Yemen. Mr. Carter will fly to Turkey, which is serving as a platform for many of the American-led strikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. It will be his first stop in a trip that is intended to take stock of recent moves to speed up the military campaign against the jihadist group and determine what additional steps might be needed. …

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