WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is looking to the Middle East and North Africa for broader contributions and new ideas to fight Islamic extremism as the Trump administration fleshes out its counterterrorism strategy.
His trip to the region this week includes stops with longstanding allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, and new partners like Djibouti.
As the administration enhances its efforts, Mattis has made a point of consulting counterparts around the world. His goals include expanding the American-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, but also combatting al-Qaida. Its Yemen branch is posing particular worry as it uses ungoverned spaces in the Arab world's poorest country to plan attacks on the U.S.
The Pentagon has said Mattis will be discussing ways to "defeat extremist terror organizations."