Obama plans to boost train-and-equip program in Iraq to fight Daesh
The US president has called for stepping up efforts in the fight against Daesh by boosting support for Iraqi troops. (AFP/File)
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US President Barack Obama has called for stepping up efforts in the fight against Daesh (ISIS) by boosting support for Iraqi troops and deepening cooperation among coalition forces.
“We are reviewing a range of plans …essentially accelerating the number of Iraqi forces that are properly trained and equipped, have a focused strategy and good leadership,” Obama said Monday at the G7 summit of world’s wealthiest nations in southern Germany’s Elmau Castle.
Addressing a press conference following his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the American president highlighted the need for speeding up the train-and-equip program for Syrian opposition fighters; he also acknowledged problems in that program.
“We do not yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of Iraqis as well about how the recruitment takes place, how that training takes place and so details of that [are] not yet worked out,” he said.
“When a finalized plan [is] presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people,” Obama added.
Turkey inked an agreement with the US in February to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces as part of the US-led coalition’s effort to battle Daesh.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said Thursday that the train-and-equip program had already started in Turkey and Jordan, adding that it would start in Saudi Arabia and Qatar soon.
Meanwhile, Obama promised stronger support for the Iraqi forces.
“We want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well equipped, and focused. And President Al-Abadi wants the same thing,” he said.
Obama underlined the need for isolating Daesh and including Sunni tribes to the system, in order to win the fight against the extremist group.
“The political agenda of inclusion remains as important as the military fight. ... If Sunnis, Kurds and Shiite all feel as if their concerns are being addressed and that operating within a legitimate political structure can meet their need for security, prosperity, non-discrimination… then we gonna have much easier time,” he said.
‘Stop the flow’
Obama also called on coalition partners to improve intelligence cooperation and coordination in order to stop foreign fighters from going abroad to join Daesh.
“We are still seeing thousands of foreign fighters flowing into first Syria, and then often times ultimately into Iraq. And not all of that is preventable, but a lot of it is preventable if we got a better cooperation, better coordination, better intelligence, if we are monitoring what is happening at the Turkish-Syria border more effectively,” Obama said.
He said that Turkish authorities recognized the problem.
“This is an area where we have been seeking deeper cooperation with Turkish authorities who recognize the problem, but have not fully ramped up the capacity they need. And this is something that I think we got to spend a lot of time on. If we can cut of some of that foreign fighter flow, then we are able to isolate and wear out ISIL [Daesh] forces there are already there,” he said.
The fight against Daesh has been among the key topics of the two-day G7 summit in Germany.
The Iraqi premier was invited as a special guest at the conference of G7 nations, which includes the US, Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan.
In a joint declaration Monday, leaders of the G7 states promised stronger cooperation in the fight against extremism and its financing.
“In light of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters phenomenon, the fight against terrorism and violent extremism will have to remain the priority for the whole international community. In this context, we welcome the continued efforts of the global coalition to counter ISIL/Daesh,” the declaration said.
“We reaffirm our commitment to defeating this terrorist group and combatting the spread of its hateful ideology. We stand united with all countries and regions afflicted by the brutal terrorist acts, including Iraq, Tunisia and Nigeria whose leaders participated in our discussions at Schloss Elmau,” it said.
The G7 leaders called on all countries to confront the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism and violent extremism, including the spread of hatred and intolerance.
“The fight against terrorism and terrorist financing is a major priority for the G7. We will continue to act fast and decisively, and will strengthen our coordinated action,” it added.
This story has been edited from the source material.
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