U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Islamic State militants threaten the entire Middle East, and the international community can not allow that threat to go unchecked.
Kerry says the strength of Islamic State finances and the size of the area under its control in Syria and Iraq make it a more dangerous threat than al-Qaida. In an interview with MSNBC television Monday, he said the Obama administration is determined to prevent that threat from reaching the United States.
“We learned with al-Qaida you can not leave this extremist cultism ungoverned spaces to plot what they want,” he said. “They are dangerous to every country in the region, and you can not have a challenge to the norms of international behavior, the rule of law, to states and leave it unchallenged.”
U.S. airstrikes in support of a ground offensive by Iraqi forces are pushing Islamic State fighters back toward Syria. Kerry told MSNBC there are no plans for such U.S. ground forces in Iraq as “this is a fight for the region.”
“Every country in the region is deeply threatened by this. And that includes Iran, includes Lebanon, includes all of the neighborhood,” Kerry said. ” And it is absolutely fair and appropriate for the world to expect that that region will fight for itself.”
Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani Monday told the group’s followers to attack citizens of the United States, France, and any other countries that join a coalition against the militants.
Secretary Kerry is here at the United Nations to continue building that coalition after traveling last week to Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt.
He met Sunday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius — France has now joined U.S. airstrikes in Iraq — and with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Iran is backing Iraqi forces against the Islamic State.