By: David P. Griscom
After Wednesday, it seems that the United States is beginning to prepare for a protracted armed conflict with ISIS. This comes after increased tensions in the region regarding the growth of the ISIS threat. ISIS seems to already have an advantage in the propaganda campaign versus the West and a military coalition of Western nations could inspire more people to rise up and joins ISIS’s ranks. But recent developments have led to the inclusion of an Arab coalition against ISIS in the region adding to the amount of states that are working to stop the ISIS threat.
On Wednesday, September 11th Secretary of State John Kerry was in Jeddah and participated in a meeting between Arab states to reverse the gains of ISIS. In this meeting he was able to gain the support of ten Arab nations who are willing to join the United States in strikes against ISIS. These nations include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The newly announced Syrian strikes will be led by the US, the inclusion of neighboring states in theory makes this less of a US incursion and more of joint regional and international commitment to fight a dangerous threat to stability in the region.
This selection of this group is not apolitical however, and notably excluded from these meeting were the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Syria. The exclusion of Iran only further exasperates the problem of politics in the region and shows that political calculations trumped strategic ones for the United States. Iran has been involved with the fighting of ISIS in Iraq under the behest of the Iraqi government. ISIS is as much of a threat to Iran as it is for the rest of the region. This is not to say that the Iranian government has been actively searching for friendship and cooperation with the United States on this issue with Ayatollah Khamenei recently insinuating that the United States may be behind the ISIS organization.
The exclusion of Syria could also be problematic as ISIS is present within their borders and Obama has explicitly stated that he will pursue ISIS wherever they reside. Assad’s government has responded to Obama’s remarks on Wednesday saying “Any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria.” The Russians have also condemned the idea of military action in Syria without the consent of the Assad government.
The continued violence in the region has had monstrous consequences as ISIS has released more videos of executions of international journalists and aid workers. The recent release of a video release of a video showing the beheading of British aid worker has only continued to show the brutal and monstrous tactics of ISIS. ISIS has threatened to kill another hostage, Alan Henning, a taxi driver who was volunteering to help those in need in Syria.
The use of the ISIS threat to further political goals is something that is reprehensible not only because it diverts attention from the issue but it makes a situation that is already incredibly complicated even more so. If there is to be a solution to this current situation that is both positive and prudent the geopolitical community will have to abandon political grudges at least for the time being. If recent history is to be any indicator this may be highly unlikely.
Photo Credit: The US Army, Flickr Commons