U.S. President Obama spent Wednesday in Tallinn, Estonia with Estonia President Ilves where the two leaders held a joint press conference and spoke about two major geopolitical problems in Ukaraine and Iraq.
After Islamic State terrorists beheaded American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff and aired the beheading on video on Tuesday, President Obama used Wednesday’s press conference to send a clear message to Sotloff’s killers that “Americans are repulsed by their barbarism” and “We won’t be intimidated.”
“Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists” Obama said.
After facing a host of questions last week about his strategy in Iraq that has relied on humanitarian airdrops and air assaults on Islamic State targets in northern Iraq, Obama used the press conference from Estonia to clarify his foreign policy as some Republicans and even some Democrats, including Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, have recently claimed that he’s being “too cautious” about his strategy confronting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Obama acknowledged last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet’ to extend into neighboring Syria which is currently a staging ground for Sunni Islamic State militants who have vowed to erase Syria’s border with Iraq and overthrow Alawite Syrian President Assad whose own government in Damascus has forged ties with Shiite Iran and alienated Sunni groups inside Syria.
Obama later said that he supports moderate opposition groups in Syria and emphasized that political change is also needed inside the war torn country that was nearly bombed last year by the United States.
Admitting that it’s going to take some time to ensure that Islamic State is not a threat to the region, Obama said on Wednesday that the United States wants to work with NATO and regional alliances in the region which comes as Assad’s government in Damascus appears incapable of stopping Islamic State in Syria and Iraq’s newly forming government in Baghdad also lacks the ability to defeat Islamic State that has dominated the region through violence and the persecution of minorities, including Christians, Shiites, and Yazidis.
“So one of our goals is to get NATO to work with us to help create the kinds of partnerships regionally that can combat not just ISIL, but these kinds of networks as they arise and potentially destabilize allies and partners of ours in the region” Obama said.