By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R) from Montrose issued a written statement following President Barack Obama’s prime-time address regarding a strategy for combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
U.S. Representative Byrne said: “I was pleased that President Obama finally put forward a strategy to combat ISIS in the Middle East. There is no doubt ISIS poses a clear, direct threat to the United States, and decisive action is badly needed. It is now important the President’s actions match his rhetoric.”
Rep. Byrne said, “Having recently returned from the Middle East, I know there is widespread support for eliminating ISIS, but the region is urgently searching for leadership from the United States. I agree with the President that we must work strategically with our allies to form a coalition in order to execute a multi-pronged approach that includes eradicating ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.”
The conservative Alabama Congressman concluded, “That said, I want to be sure President Obama continues to consult with Congress. The current Authorization for Use of Military Force is outdated and, in my opinion, no longer applicable to this current conflict. I am prepared to vote in support of a new military authorization that specifically authorizes US military actions against ISIS. We must stand up against this vile enemy and protect United States citizens both at home and abroad.”
Congressman Byrne has recently returned from a 10-day trip to the Middle East during which he visited with foreign leaders from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. Defeating ISIS was a common theme in each of the meetings overseas.
Congressman Mike Rogers (R) from Saks said in his own statement, “The world has rightly reacted with horror to the brutal rise of ISIL as they have slaughtered countless Christians and Muslims alike in their drive to create an Islamic State, including the ruthless murder of two American journalists. I’ve been disappointed by the Administration’s lack of strategy and leadership to confront this threat up to now, and as the House assesses this plan my goal first and foremost will be to disable and destroy this threat.”
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R) from Pennsylvania said in a statement on Wednesday, “We must demand a swift and decisive response to the wanton chaos and destruction that ISIS is wreaking on innocent people all across Iraq and Syria. ISIS’ goal is to commit genocide on a scale not seen since the 1940s. ISIS “fighters” want to force Christians and other religious minorities to either convert or be executed. And they are on the march.”
Sen. Santorum said that the U.S. air strikes on terrorist positions in Iraq are, “A step in the right direction. But it isn’t nearly enough. Remember, ISIS is made up of extremists that even Al Qaeda thought were too radical. They won’t be easily intimidated. And they will attack America if we don’t take action.”
During his address, President Obama said, “ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.”
The President warned that ISIS (ISIL), “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.”
The President said, “Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”
President Obama announced, “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy. First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
The President said that we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. Obama is sending another 475 troops to join the several hundred American service members he deployed in June to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces.
President Obama promised, “These American forces will not have a combat mission – we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.”
In Syria, the President said, “In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.” Just who these anti-ISIS anti-Assad Syrian forces are we are supposed to provide military aid to and just how capable they are remains unclear.
President Obama said that he will work to prevent ISIL attacks and cut off their funding and the flow of ISIS volunteers. Obama continued, “In two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.