U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Egypt on the latest stop of his regional tour to forge an international coalition against Islamic State jihadists responsible for killing civilians across Iraq and Syria.
Kerry’s schedule in Egypt Saturday includes meetings with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sissi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. The U.S. is working to push beyond airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq to a broader coalition against the Syrian-based militants.
U.S. government officials are now calling the military action against the Islamic State militants a war.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the fight against the Islamic State insurgents is a “war” similar to that against another notoriously violent terrorist group – al-Qaida.
A senior U.S. administration official says Kerry will talk with Egypt about its contribution to the international coalition to combat the Islamic State. The official said that contribution will likely include restricting the flow of foreign fighters and their financing.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that the goal of the growing US-lead coalition of Arab and Western states is to “snuff out this particular brand of Islamic extremism” cultivated by the Islamic State.
The militants have launched an armed campaign of fighting, kidnappings, and killings as they extended their reach from Syria into Iraq.
On a visit to Turkey Friday, Kerry said roughly 40 countries have offered varying levels of support for the anti-IS coalition.
Lebanon, a neighbor to war-torn Syria, is among 10 Arab countries that agreed this week to back the U.S.-lead military campaign against the Islamic State.
U.S. Ambassador to Beirut David Hale said Friday that the Lebanese army had received “accelerated shipments” of armaments from the U.S. funded by Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, including air-to-surface (Hellfire) missiles.
On a visit to Iraq, the eastern front of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, French President Francois Hollande said Friday that his country would provide Iraq with airpower to strike the estimated 20,000-31,500 Islamic State fighters.
Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has received written assurance from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner that the legislative body will support Baghdad as Islamic State militants push to expand their territory.
The US House of Representatives will vote next week on a request from Mr. Obama for the U.S. to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight militants.
Coordinating the US campaign will be General John R. Allen, who had a pivotal role in the Iraqi Sunni uprising against al Qaida in 2007, and later served as America’s top military commander in Afghanistan.
In addition to concerns about the Islamic State militants, Kerry’s agenda with Egyptian officials will also include the cease-fire in Gaza, security in Libya, as well as Egypt’s transition to democracy and its human rights issues.