WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said Sunday that the jihadist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has seized territory in Iraq, poses a medium- and long-term threat’ to the United States.
But he said the Iraqi public will ultimately reject ISIS, the extremist Sunni group threatening Iraq's government. ‘We're going to have to be vigilant generally. Right now the problem with ISIS is the fact that they're destabilizing the country,’ Obama said. ‘That could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan.’
‘It's fair to say that their extreme ideology poses a medium- and long-term threat. There are a lot of groups out there that probably have more advanced immediate plans directed against the United States that we have to be on constant guard for,’ Obama told the CBS news in an interview.
‘The thing about an organisation like this is that typically when they control territory, because they're so violent, because they're so extreme, over time the local populations reject them,’ he said. He said the Iraqi public will ultimately reject the extremist Sunni group threatening Iraq's government. ‘We've seen that time and time again. We saw it during the Iraq War in places like Anbar province where Sunni tribes suddenly turned against them because of their extreme ideology,’ Obama said, adding that the US would be vigilant against them.
‘Right now, the problem with ISIS is the fact that they are destabilising a country that could spill over into some of our allies, like Jordan, and that they are engaged in wars in Syria where in that vacuum that's been created, they could amass more arms, more resources,’ Obama said.
Obama said it is important to recognize that ISIS is just one of a number of groups that the US has to stay focused on. ‘Al-Qaeda in Yemen is still very active, and we're staying focused on that. In North Africa, you're seeing organizations, including Boko Haram, that kidnapped all those young women, that is extreme and violent,’ he noted. ‘This is going to be a global challenge and one that the US is going to have to address, but we're not going to be able to address it alone. What we can't do is think that we're just going to play Whac-A-Mole and send US troops occupying various countries, wherever these organizations pop up.
‘We're going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy, and we're going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well,’ he said. ‘This notion that somehow there was this ready-made moderate Syrian force that was able to defeat (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is simply not true, and, you know, we have spent a lot of time trying to work with a moderate opposition in Syria,’ the president said.