Kerry Defends AUMF Delay, Cites OIR Progress

Several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee criticized the White House’s delay in seeking a new authorization for the anti-ISIS fight, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry as to why the Obama Administration did not lay out the guidelines for its military campaign for Congress to examine. Kerry noted that Sept. 10 is the six-month anniversary of the fall of Mosul to ISIS, and in the immediate aftermath the US poured in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to assess the severity of the threat and the danger to the Iraqi government. At the same time, the US was working to get a government in Baghdad “we could work with” before coming to Congress. Today, the political realities around Iraq have realigned and generated some success. Every time Iraqi forces have worked under US and coalition air power, they have “routed” ISIS forces, Kerry stressed. To date, the coalition has launched more than 1,100 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Over 500 of which have been carried out in Syria with the US’ Arab partners targeting command and control nodes, training camps, refineries, and other sites supporting ISIS. Iraq is now reaching out to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others—all countries that were “drifting apart” prior to the ISIS onslaught, Kerry noted. (Kerry prepared testimony.)