To stand a chance of success, the strategy will need regional buy-in to attempt to shut down financial support and fighter recruitment that provide the Islamic State group with its strategic depth. To this end, the US tabled a UN Security Council resolution on September 8 that plans to demand countries “prevent and suppress” the recruitment and travel of foreign fighters by ensuring it is considered a serious criminal offence under domestic laws.–James Denselow writing for Al Jazeera
Can President Obama save the Levant from anarchy? It won’t be easy.
Whatever else may be true about conflict in the Levant, the idea that ISIS can be destroyed militarily is surely wrong. We should have learned this from experience in Viet Nam and Afghanistan. Support for ISIS will diminish only when its supporters see a better way to self-determination and a better life.
Whether one believes that the struggle is between classes, religious sects, or nation states, the situation is complex. Our friends today may be enemies tomorrow. General Petraeus got much credit for supporting the “Sunni awakening,” but how long did it last?
Mark Landler, writing for The New York Times, writes:
The murderous march of the militants across Syria and Iraq — its effort to establish a cross-border caliphate, mass killings, videotaped beheadings and ethnic cleansing — has upended the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East and turned ISIS into a nemesis for virtually every country in the region. Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, whose government helped give ISIS a foothold in Syria, is now calling for the West to join his nation in a common battle against ISIS. Iran is backing Shiite militias to hold off the militants in Iraq. Officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shiite and Sunni archrivals, met recently to discuss ISIS. It remains uncertain whether these strange partnerships will survive the immediate threat of the militants and lay the groundwork for a broader realignment.
Buzz phrases–no amnesty, no new taxes, don’t kick the can down the road–may be effective propaganda but not good policy. “No boots on the ground,” already false, may suggest no bloody battles with casualties and prisoners, but is surely misleading. Limiting our options and informing enemies of the limitation can’t be wise.
I have no doubt that President Obama is careful and cautious. I am glad to read that the current plan has non-military elements. However, the plan surely reflects political pressure as much as careful foreign policy. As after 9-11, the public demands action, any action, thoughtful or not. This may be a time when it would be best to watch carefully, act judiciously, and bide our time.
© William Hungerford – September 2014