President Barack Obama is addressing the United Nations as a commander in chief overseeing a war against militants in two Middle Eastern nations, a striking shift in the trajectory of a presidency that had been focused on ending conflicts in the region.
Instead, when he speaks to the world body Wednesday, he will cast the U.S. as the linchpin in efforts to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said. After weeks of launching strikes against militant targets in Iraq, Obama extended the military action into Syria on Monday, joined by an unexpected coalition of five Arab nations. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes, while Qatar played a supporting role.
The partnership with Arab countries marked a rare victory for Obama during a tough stretch in which his foreign policy has been challenged not only by the Middle East militants, but also Russia’s provocations in Ukraine and an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Officials said Obama will also address ways the U.S. has sought to mobilize international action to resolve the Ukraine and Ebola crises as well, including getting deepening economic sanctions on Russia and dispatching 3,000 U.S. troops to West Africa to help deal with the Ebola outbreak.