WASHINGTON — President Obama said Thursday that that “we don’t have a strategy yet” when it comes to removing the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” the president said Thursday.
Mr. Obama is currently weighing whether to order airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, which many experts say is necessary in order to defeat the Islamic militant group that has taken over vast swaths of territory in the region.
Part of that discussion includes a debate over whether he is required to seek approval from Congress.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans so we’re developing them. At that point I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard,” the president said.
For now, Mr. Obama says he remains chiefly concerned about making sure that the militant group does not overrun northern Iraq.
ISIS made significant territorial gains there before the U.S. began conducting airstrikes to stop the advance in an effort to protect U.S. personnel and assets and prevent a humanitarian disaster.
“In order for us to degrade [ISIS] over the long term we’re going to have to build a regional strategy,” the president said, which begins with the formation of a more inclusive Iraqi government that can strengthen the country’s security forces.
He acknowledged that will ultimately involve stabilizing Syria in the long run.
“Clearly [ISIS] has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively and that’s going to be a long term project,” the president said.
He said he has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to the region to help coordinate the response among other countries.
In Ukraine, tensions are running high after officials from both the government and NATO reported that at least 1,000 Russian troops have poured into the eastern part of the country, which has been destabilized in recent months but pro-Russian separatists.