Arab League chief: Confront ISIS group

2014-09-08 10:50
Isis massacre. (AP)

Isis massacre. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - The head of the Arab League urged its members on Sunday to confront Islamic State extremists "militarily and politically", issuing an apparent call to arms as President Barack Obama prepares to go to lawmakers and the American public with his own plan to stop the militants.

Backing from the 22-country Arab League could provide crucial support across the Middle East for Obama's effort to assemble an international coalition against the Islamic State, the marauding group that has conquered a swath of Iraq and Syria and committed beheadings and mass killings to sow terror.

Already, Nato forces have agreed to take on the extremists.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said that what is needed from Arab countries is a "clear and firm decision for a comprehensive confrontation" with "cancerous and terrorist" groups. The Arab League includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Obama will meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday and then outline his plan to the war-weary American public on Wednesday, the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 11 September 2001, terror attacks.

"I just want the American people to understand the nature of the threat and how we're going to deal with it and to have confidence that we'll be able to deal with it," Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press".

Draft resolution

In new airstrikes Sunday, the US targeted Islamic State fighters in Iraq's long-contested Anbar province for the first time, launching attacks with bomber and fighter aircraft.

The American military said the airstrikes destroyed, among other things, an Islamic Group command post and several vehicles, two of which were carrying anti-aircraft artillery.

It wasn't immediately clear what steps the Arab League would take in supporting the West's campaign against the Islamic State. And reaching a consensus on how to move could be complicated by Arab world rivalries and member countries' different spheres of influence.

An Arab diplomat speaking to Egypt's official MENA news agency said a resolution backing co-operation with the US would go before members on Sunday. He did not elaborate.

But a draft resolution obtained by The Associated Press offered only routine condemnation of terrorist groups operating in the region. It also called on member states to improve information-sharing and legal expertise in combating terrorism, and to prevent the paying of ransom to militants.

Elaraby himself noted that the Arab League's member states have failed to help each other in the past when facing local armed groups, often because of disagreements and fear of being accused of meddling in one another's affairs.

Private diplomatic conversation

He called the Islamic State a threat to the existence of Iraq and its neighbours. It is "one of the examples of the challenges that are violently shaking the Arab world, and one the Arab League, regrettably, has not been able to confront," he said.

A decades-old joint Arab defence agreement states that member countries can act alone or collectively to ward off attack and restore peace by all means, including force. Elaraby, a longtime Egyptian diplomat, said an agreement to activate that clause in the 1950 agreement is needed.

Before the Arab League meeting, Elaraby spoke by telephone to US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the Islamic State insurgents.

A senior state department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the private diplomatic conversation, said Kerry updated Elaraby on efforts to combat the insurgents.

"They discussed the need for the Arab League and its members to take a strong position in the coalition that is developing ... and the importance of decisive action" to stop the flow of foreign fighters, disrupt the Islamic State's financing and combat incitement, the official said.

Kerry said the military aspect is only one part of the effort, and more comprehensive coordination with Arab countries — combining law enforcement, intelligence, economic and diplomatic tools — is required, the official said.

Meanwhile, the US said it launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq. US officials said the offensive was an effort to beat back the militants from the dam, which remained under Iraqi control.

The militants could have opened or damaged the dam, flooding wide areas as far as Baghdad's international airport, where hundreds of US personnel are stationed, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, traveling in Georgia, said the Iraqi government had asked the US to launch the airstrikes.

Amid the fighting, the province's governor and the mayor of Haditha were wounded by a roadside bomb, said Faleh al-Issawi, a member of Anbar's provincial council. Governor Ahmed al-Dulaimi later tweeted that he was not seriously hurt.

Read more on:    arab league  |  john kerry  |  chuck hagel  |  barack obama  |  iraq  |  isis  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.