President Obama intends to detail a plan to step up the American offensive against ISIS—including ordering airstrikes in Syria—in a televised address planned for this evening. Administration officials told the New York Times that the plan to be revealed tonight will be a longterm campaign "far more complex than the targeted strikes the United States has used against Al Qaeda in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere."
Sources told the Associated Press that Obama will largely move forward with the expansion without Congressional authorization, believing he "has the authority he needs to take action," though he has suggested openness to Congress becoming further involved. From the Times:
But Congress is divided on the need for a vote on military action before the midterm elections, and both sides appeared to be searching for a way to enlist congressional support without an explicit authorization of force. One way under discussion would be for lawmakers to approve $500 million in funding to train and arm Syrian rebels who would fight ISIS — legislation that has been languishing on Capitol Hill.
Obama's address tonight comes in tandem with Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Iraq, where he has met with key members of the Iraqi government, including newly-installed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Kerry will also meet with, the Times reports, President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, and Salim al-Jubouri, the Sunni speaker of Iraq's parliament. (al-Abadi is Shiite.)
The secretary of state is in the country in part to bolster efforts to combat ISIS as its stronghold over northern and western Iraq tightens, but also to convey to leadership that an inclusive Iraqi government is a precondition to continued and expanded American support against the militants.
[Image via AP]