WASHINGTON, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - The United States’ military operations against the Islamic State radical group would be more effective if Congress were to vote to authorize the President to use military force, but such authorization is not necessary Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin told RIA Novosti Tuesday.
“This kind of threat would be met in a more effective way if Congress is united. [However], I don’t believe [President Barack Obama] needs authority, because first of all, he has legal opinions saying he doesn’t. Secondly, there’s never been an AUMF [authorization for use of military force] for airstrikes,” Levin said after a committee hearing on the strategy to combat IS.
The United States carried out the first airstrike at IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on Monday, but the US Amy refrains from ground attacks.
“Currently, Obama is justifying the strikes against ISIL using the broad framework established by previous authorizations for use of military force, instituted to combat al-Qaeda and its sponsors after September 11, 2001, and to invade Iraq in 2003. Some members of Congress have argued that the president should seek a new authorization, but Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel has issued opinions that the president has the statutory authority to carry out his strategy under previous authorizations.
“I hope that Congress does vote and does authorize. But if they don’t, is he prevented from acting? No president would say that’s the case,” Levin said.
A show of support from the US Congress would go a long way in the international community, Levin said.
“We’re asking other countries, particularly Muslim and Arab countries, to openly support this effort. We should openly support it too,” he said, adding that the support should consist not only of “covert activities, which are taking place,” but with authorization to train and equip Syrian forces.
This week, the Congress is to vote on whether to give Obama authority to arm and train Syrian rebels. Senator Levin said that depending on congressional sentiment, there may be a new AUMF proposed by the Foreign Affairs Committee following the October district work period.
The Islamic State militant group has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012 and started launching attacks in northern and western Iraq in June, 2014. IS militants have seized vast areas in both countries and have proclaimed an Islamic caliphate on all the territories under its control.