Marrakech - Last night President Obama laid out a strategy calling for a coalition against the group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS).
Marrakech – Last night President Obama laid out a strategy calling for a coalition against the group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS).
The American people, weary of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, have apparently given the president their support to degrade the capability of ISIS forces and to destroy them. Bombing raids have already been taking place on ISIS forces in Iraq, and the President announced that he will extend them against ISIS forces in Syria.
He said he will not work with the government of President Assad, but he will seek to arm and finance moderate fighters, although, they will probably not get, or hand-held anti-aircraft missiles. After 200,000 deaths in Syria and millions of displaced refugees in neighboring countries, a coalition is at last being formed to counter ISIS which has used the havoc wreaked in Syria to expand into Iraq and threaten the whole of the Levant and the Middle East.
Historically, the war against Saddam Hussein was preceded by the elaborate formation of a coalition, and it appears that the same strategy is being adopted again. The United States will be joined by its allies Britain, Australia, new Zealand, Germany, France, Turkey, and all other NATO members. Following President Obama’s speech, the Gulf countries are meeting to negotiate their participation in the coalition, and the countries of the Maghreb will no doubt also be asked to participate. Libya, however, is already disintegrating, and the UAE with Egyptian support has already intervened in Libya with air strikes. The first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein over the invasion of Kuwait was underwritten by funds from Saudi Arabia. However, countries such as Britain and France have more recently seen their financial standing and their military spending cut back because of the recession.
While President Obama may not have to obtain formal Congressional approval for the contemplated military action, other coalition partners, such as Britain, may have to obtain parliamentary approval for participating in the coalition. This could take time.
The specter of beheaded bodies, crucifixions, massacres, and widespread medieval savagery has had the desired effect. ISIS wants to do battle and return to 1492 to reclaim the caliphate. France has experienced the trauma of national hostages being held and murdered, and brutal massacres which took place in Mali. With great resolution French forces defeated Islamist forces and Al Qaeda in Mali and the Sahel with regional armed forces. When Bamako lay wide open to terrorist forces, France resolutely acted while the UN, USA, and the West hesitated.
Now at last a grand alliance is being formed to degrade and eliminate ISIS forces which threaten not only the Middle East region, but the world. No US or western troops will be used, according the President Obama, thus avoiding the Iraq and Afghanistan entanglements. It has been decided that local forces including the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi army will fight against ISIS on the ground. Whether this will work in Syria has yet to be seen.
The use of American special forces and drones will no doubt back up local forces. This is happening on a regular basis in Somalia with targeted termination of Al Qaeda leaders. President Obama has never been averse to using special forces and drones. The latest ISIS outrages featuring the beheading of two American journalists will probably reduce the number of objections to the use of targeted assassinations by US special forces. The effectiveness of targeted terminations against Al Qaeda leadership combined with advanced surveillance has been undeniable.
Will it work against ISIS? President Obama has mentioned a range of measures to be used against ISIS including diplomatic, financial, and military forces of countries in the region, but no “boots on the ground.” He has been quite clear that ISIS will be destroyed, but it could be a long haul, possibly three or more years, as Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
We are entering a new era of instability with a complicated war which has yet to be fully understood. People are breathing a sigh of relief now that the decision has been made to counter a dangerous terrorist force, but force alone is not the answer. Diplomatic skills and sound government will be needed to end the discontent and inequality on which terrorism feeds.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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