Obama asks Congress for war on ISIS

2015-02-11 17:12
File photo, President Barack Obama. (Charles Dharapak, AP, File)

File photo, President Barack Obama. (Charles Dharapak, AP, File)

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

Washington - President Barack Obama asked Congress Wednesday to formally authorise military force against the Islamic State (ISIS) group, arguing the militants could pose a threat to the US homeland if their violent power grab goes unchecked and urging lawmakers to "show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat."

The president elected on a promise to end America's wars is sending Congress a proposed joint resolution to authorize military force against the swift rise of Islamic State extremists, who are imposing violent rule across Iraq and Syria and have brazenly killed US and allied hostages in brutal online propaganda videos.

In a five-paragraph letter to lawmakers accompanying the three-page draft resolution provided to The Associated Press, Obama said the Islamic State "poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East and to US national security."

"It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of US citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller," he said, listing the American hostages who died in IS custody.

"If left unchecked, ISIS will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland."

Obama plans to speak on his request from the White House Wednesday afternoon.

Obama's proposal launches an ideological debate over what authorities and limitations the president should have in pursuit of the extremists, with the shadow of lost American lives hanging over its fate. Confirmation of the death of 26-year-old humanitarian worker Mueller on the eve of Obama's proposal added new urgency, while the costly long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a caution to some lawmakers against yet another protracted military campaign.

Obama is offering to limit authorization to three years, extending to the next president the powers and the debate over renewal for what he envisions as a long-range battle. He is proposing no geographic limitations where US forces could pursue the elusive militants. The authorization covers the ISIS and "associated persons or forces," defined as those fighting on behalf of or alongside ISIS "or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

Obama's resolution would repeal a 2002 authorisation for force in Iraq but maintain a 2001 authorization against al-Qaida in Afghanistan, although Obama said in his letter to lawmakers his goal is to refine and ultimately repeal that authorization as well.

Obama's proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations," a novel term in military force authorizations. Its ambiguity is designed to bridge the divide between lawmakers opposed to ground troops and those who say the commander in chief should maintain the option.

Rigorous hearings

Obama said his draft would not authorise long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those deployed in the past to Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing those battles should be left to local forces instead of the US military.

"The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving US or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIS leadership," Obama said, using an acronym for the group.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he appreciated the president seeking the authorisation and would quickly begin holding "rigorous hearings" on the White House request.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the provision would allow special operations missions, such as potential raids targeting ISIS leaders and the failed attempt last summer to rescue Mueller and other hostages held by the group.

Obama's draft resolution opens with a list of declarations against the ISIS' "depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology," including its seizure of significant territory in Iraq and Syria, its intention and capability to expand its reach, mass killings of Muslims who don't subscribe to its beliefs, genocide against other religious groups and violence against women.

Obama argues the congressional authorizations President George W. Bush used to justify military action after 9/11 are sufficient for him to deploy more than 2 700 US troops to train and assist Iraqi security forces and conduct ongoing airstrikes against targets in Iraq and Syria.

Uncomfortable

Critics have said Obama is overstepping outdated authorities to target the new threat from militants imposing a violent form of Shari'ah law in pursuit of the establishment of an Islamic state.

Presidential aides have consulted privately with lawmakers from both parties ahead of unveiling the plan publicly in hopes of lining up support, despite the political divisions that have deadlocked Washington in Obama's second term.

In anticipation of debate and attempts to amend the resolution, Earnest called the offer a "starting point for conversations to take place."

Earnest said the language limiting ground troops was designed not just for domestic political considerations, but to take in the viewpoint of leaders in Iraq and members of the US-Arab coalition targeting ISIS uncomfortable with the idea of a large deployment of US forces.

He also said the lack of geographic limitations will allow pursuit of the extremists beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

Read more on:    isis  |  barack obama  |  iraq  |  us  |  syria

Join the conversation!

24.com 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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com 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
44 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

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

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.