President Barack Obama on Tuesday hinted at NATO’s involvement in the fight against Daesh.
“We are working closely with NATO allies to make sure that we are partnering with other countries to address issues of counterterrorism; making sure that we continue to coordinate effectively in the fight against ISIL” Obama said. “That means increased defense capacity-building with other countries like Iraq or GCC countries that are interested in working with us, as well as the African Union,” he added referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Obama’s comments came during a press conference after a meeting with the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The U.S. president said the pair discussed NATO’s traditional challenges with respect to threats in the East and the West as well as the alliance’s “southern front” which includes the conflict in Libya and Daesh in the Middle East.
Acknowledging that NATO members are concerned about spillover from the Mideast turmoil, Obama suggested NATO allies review whether they are deploying and arranging assets effectively to address current challenges.
“As the strongest alliance in the history of the world, we need to make sure that each member country is properly resourcing and committing to the NATO missions that have been set forth,” Obama added.
Stoltenberg also noted defense capacity-building as a key to NATO.
“We have increased our support for Jordan. We are in the process of developing defense capacity-building for Iraq. And we stand ready to do so also in Libya when the situation on the ground allows,” he said.
Obama also addressed domestic issues, urging the Senate to work through a recess to pass the USA Freedom Act – a revision of the controversial Patriot Act.
Senators are currently on recess until Sunday when authorities under the Patriot Act expire at midnight.
“I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done,” Obama said.
The Freedom Act places restrictions on the intelligence community’s bulk phone metadata collection programs, while leaving many of the Patriot Act’s provisions intact.
Obama said that the bill’s provisions “are necessary to keep us safe and secure.”
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed its version of the bill, but the Senate fell three votes shy of passing its version last weekend.
The Senate is going to convene Sunday in an extraordinary session to vote on the bill.