- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Susan Rice, a White House national security adviser, said Wednesday that having a common enemy in the Islamic State has minimized historic tensions between Qatar and other U.S. partners in the Middle East.

“These were all countries that met with the president of the United States yesterday and underscored that this is their fight. Those are their words,” she said on MSNBC.

The U.S. is partnering with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar in airstrikes and training of foreign fighters to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“Yesterday in the meeting with President Obama, they came together to underscore the same message: that ISIL is a threat to them all,” Ms. Rice said. “ISIL has had a remarkable unifying effect.”

While many have said that the Islamic State can’t be defeated with airstrikes alone, Ms. Rice emphasized that she didn’t see any scenario where U.S. troops would go into combat. Rather, she said the U.S. and partners have to ensure that local ground troops can be effective through training and equipping them with weapons.

“We have to make them up to the task,” she said.

That could take months, Ms. Rice said.

“We will take the time to vet these fighters carefully, obviously we want to be sure those who we give our support to we have confidence in, then we will have to build their ranks and their skills,” she said. “We have estimated this will be a matter of months before these forces start to come online in substantial numbers.”

• Jacqueline Klimas can be reached at jklimas@washingtontimes.com.

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