According to his office, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called Maliki today to say that Iran "will not tolerate the [acts of] violence and terror.”US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that "all options" were being considered to support the Iraqi government. Asked about air strikes, he said, "I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria."Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Obama will likely decide soon exactly how to proceed."Given the gravity of the situation, I would anticipate timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge," he told reporters at a conference in London.
"I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria."
Kerry also said that Maliki should attempt to end sectarian divide in Iraq. This could be tough; many of Iraq's large Sunni minority population see the prime minister as having used the armed forces as a tool for Shiite interests.ISIS took the western city of Fallujah early this year, but despite repeated efforts, government troops have not been able to dislodge them. The group is also active in Syria, just across the border from Ninevah Province where Mosul is located.There, a recent offensive has seen it advance into oil-rich Deir al-Zor and to the northeast bank of the Euphrates, taking territory from Islamic brigades fighting mainly against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), it has temporarily put its Syria operations on hold while it resupplies with weapons seized from the Iraqi army. SOHR said that ISIS may even have arranged a temporary ceasefire with some Syrian rebel brigades.Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck
"Given the gravity of the situation, I would anticipate timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge."