The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become a focus of world headlines recently, with videos surfacing of beheadings, mass killings and other extreme acts of violence and terror. Their hold on the Middle Eastern region is steadily growing, and the group has made threats of bringing their terror to the United States. Many countries have openly detested their actions most notably the United States. President Obama boldly stated earlier in September, in a direct message to ISIS: “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven”. While no direct military action on the ground has taken place yet, there are a number of hurdles that the US and other members of the international community must clear in order to fully handle this growing problem.
In regards to the United States’ response to ISIS, this article from The Economist, explains how President Obama did not pledge any troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq, but instead insisted on the use of the U.S. force along with a coordinated coalition of various other countries. The challenge is even greater due to the fact that ISIS has control of large regions in Syria and Iraq, limiting the availability of allies on the ground for Obama’s “coalition force”. The article also cites how President Obama’s plan for a mainly air-based offensive may prove to be ineffective, with ISIS being able to simply base its strongholds in heavily populated civilian zones, and possibly result in unwanted collateral damages incurred by the U.S. If the United States further responds to the ISIS threat, what can U.S. citizens expect in the coming months?
The issue of Obama’s “coalition” also presents many challenges towards the entire situation. Carl Bialik from FiveThirtyEight discusses the issue, with 42 countries currently supporting the Anti-ISIS movement. That being said, not all 42 countries have pledged military support, while many are simply planning on providing humanitarian support, in the form of supplies for refugees of the conflict, for example tents, food, and medical supplies. While this cooperation is greatly needed, it puts the U.S. in somewhat of an awkward situation, pledging the ultimate destruction of ISIS, simply through airstrikes and humanitarian aid. The confidence in this coalition force also vary by country, which is also shown in the article, with different countries having quite different viewpoints on foreign intervention in Iraq and Syria.
One of the most important points on this topic besides the U.S. and international intervention, is the strength and resolve of ISIS itself. Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post discusses ISIS tactics and their growth in the wake of the increased attention to the issue, as well as the implications of ISIS’ actions in regards to the Islamic world. ISIS has actually been able to profit from the increased global media attention, calling the increased pressure from the international community a “crusade” and rallying support from Al-Qaeda. ISIS is calling for all Muslims to support their cause, which presents a very serious threat to any coalition force attempting to deal with ISIS on its home territory.
While the U.S. and the international community are preparing, this will likely continue to snowball into a very volatile situation. There are many mitigating factors surrounding any serious intervention, and surely any opposition to ISIS will meet very strong resistance. The ISIS are growing in size and strength by the day, and will continue to present more and more problems for any rigid cooperation from the international community.