The shadow of the Islamic State appeared to loom large over the meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Wales, U.K., this week, as alliance partners led by the U.S. urged the coalition to take steps toward formulating a coordinated policy response to the threat posed by the insurgent group in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron as Secretary of State John Kerry looks on, at the NATO summit at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron as Secretary of State John Kerry looks on, at the NATO summit at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales

In a joint statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his defence counterpart Chuck Hagel said that the multiple lines of effort by an international coalition to defeat IS should entail military support to Iraqi forces, stopping the flow of foreign fighters, countering IS’ financing and funding, addressing humanitarian crises, and de-legitimising their extremist ideology.

“We and the Ministers agreed here today that there is no time to waste in building a broad international coalition to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by ISIL,” the Secretaries said, using another acronym for IS.

Underscoring the importance of coordinated efforts in this regard, they cited the joint action by the military forces of the U.S., France, Australia, and the UK to deliver humanitarian supplies to the citizens of Amerli in northern Iraq in recent days.

They pledged to extend such cooperation in fighting IS to other strategic aspects including the “strong Chapter 7 UN Security Council Resolution enacted last month that calls on all member states to take decisive action to stop the flow of foreign fighters, counter ISIL’s financing.”

At one of the events on the sidelines of the NATO dialogue Mr. Kerry noted that U.S. President Barack Obama would be leading a National Security Council meeting in New York in the course of United Nations General Assembly, which would focus specifically on the challenge of dealing with foreign fighters taking up arms with IS.

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Hinting that the U.S. hoped that the UNGA meeting at the end of this month would be a deadline of sorts, he said “We very much hope that people will be as declarative as some of our friends around the table have been in order to be clear about what they’re willing to commit, because we must be able to have a plan together by the time we come to UNGA, we need to have this coalesce.”

The leaders further announced the creation of a multinational task force to share more information about the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and from Syria into Iraq, a phenomenon that they described as “an acute threat to our NATO allies.”

At the meeting NATO leaders also approved plans to set up a rapid response force with a headquarters in Eastern Europe, which could quickly mobilise if an allied nation in the region were to come under attack.

Although he did not directly reference Russia and the recent violence in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the new unit would send a clear message to potential aggressors.

“Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance,” he said.

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