Week ahead: US aims to beef up anti-ISIS coalition

The Obama administration will look to capitalize on the gains it made at the United Nations as it works to expand the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Arab countries including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates took part in expanded airstrikes targeting the terror group and the al-Qaeda linked Khorasan Group in Syria.


Those strikes were followed by a diplomatic victory as President Obama chaired a U.N. Security Council meeting where nations unanimously approved a resolution calling for tougher laws to stem the flow of foreign fighters.

Expect the administration to push to grow the anti-ISIS coalition and secure more commitments from allied partners.

The British Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to approve airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq, adding another member to the U.S.-lead effort. Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands have also announced their intention to participate in coalition airstrikes in Iraq.

The administration is also “moving forward” with its plan to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition to fight ISIS, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

He said Defense Department leaders have begun “detailed military planning for this mission and assessment teams have arrived in Saudi Arabia.” The administration hopes to train around 5,000 soldiers to battle the terror group on the ground inside Syria.

The escalation of airstrikes into Syria has led members of both parties to call for a debate over a new authorization for the use of military force.

Some lawmakers have pressed for Congress to return to Washington immediately for a vote, with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) saying members should be debating the Syria strikes “right now.”

The House and Senate appear split on when to address the issue. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a lame-duck session would be the wrong time to debate war authorization. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), though, hope to debate a resolution on military force when lawmakers return in November.

Lawmakers on the campaign trail won’t be able to ignore the military campaign, as voters can expect Republicans to try to hammer Democrats on national security issues.

In Washington, the White House is set to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will attend a private dinner with Obama on Monday night. He will return to the White House on Tuesday to meet with the president.

The leaders could potentially discuss plans for New Delhi to buy billions of dollars in arms from the U.S., including attack helicopters and missiles.

On Wednesday, Obama will also host Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. The pair will discuss the security situation in the Gaza Strip, the Iran nuclear talks and the battle against ISIS, the White House said.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere will convene to examine the case of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a Marine who has been jailed in Tijuana, Mexico, after reportedly crossing the border by mistake in March.

Witnesses include Tahmooressi’s mother and veterans’ advocates.

Off Capitol Hill, a trio of conservative groups will host the second National Security Action Summit on Monday. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), two ardent critics of Obama’s defense policies, will address the daylong event via video.

Other speakers include GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Trent Franks (Ariz.) and Jim Bridenstine (Okla.).

On Monday, Afghanistan will swear in a new president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. expects him to “promptly” sign a security pact allowing American troops to remain in the country after 2014.

On Tuesday, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work will speak at a breakfast reception hosted the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday will hold a discussion on cybersecurity featuring Eric Rosenbach, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security.


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