The United States’ key Middle East allies have agreed to back a US-led military operation against extremist "Islamic State" fighters. The operation, proposed by US President Obama, now awaits backing from US Congress.
Following a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, a group of leading Arab countries said they would "do their share" in US-led efforts to rid the Middle East of “Islamic State” militants.
The group, which included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and other Gulf States, indicated that its primary focus would be on stopping the flow of fighters and funding to IS-controlled areas in northern Iraq and parts of Syria.
In its statement released after the conclusion of the meeting at the Red Sea resort Jeddah, Saudi Arabia the Arab allies also said they would provide support for "many aspects" of the military operation "as appropriate."
Kerry is currently travelling through the Middle East to drum up support for the expansion of an anti-IS military campaign, which President Obama announced on Wednesday evening.
So far, European partners Germany and Great Britain have said they would contribute to US-led efforts. However, they do not plan on participating in the airstrikes on Syrian land.
The Syria government, for its part, has slammed US intentions of striking within it territory, while Syrian opposition fighters have welcomed the military support.
Congress looking to 'get it right'
President Obama's speech was delivered on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the US, which catapulted the superpower into over a decade of wars fought in the name of counterterrorism. On Thursday, the 13th anniversary of 9/11, Congress found itself confronted with another military operation, potentially lasting many years and costing the debt-ridden country even more money.
"It's important to address this and it's important to get it right," Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn told reporters on Thursday.
Lawmakers were reportedly expected to deliberate over the issue into next week, at which point they will return home to campaign for the upcoming mid-term elections in November.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner told Reuters news agency on Thursday that lawmakers were not close to decision.
"I am not sure we are doing all that we can to defeat this terrorist threat," Boehner said.
Meanwhile, the majority leader of the US Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, predicted that Congress would back Obama, whose plan includes equipping and training Syrian troops "to fight these…evil terrorists."
kms/hc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)