A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Quick Take on Obama's ISIS Speech

A few off-the-cuff reactions to Obama's speech:

I like the emphasis on allies in the region having to bear the brunt of the ground war, since ISIS will try to make it a David vs. Goliath one-on-one with the US to win more recruits (which may be why they deliberately provoked the US by killing US journalists. If the US is too much in front here, we may just be helping their recruiting efforts and prestige among jihadis,

There was a lot of talk about a broad coalition of allies, including the Arab world, though only the Iraqi government (and the Kurds) were named. I well understand the sensitivities here, but I keep hearing the Arab world and our NATO allies spoken of.

A pop quiz for you all: 1) is there a NATO Ally which 2) happens to have a strong army, and 3) borders with both Syria and Iraq which are 4) adjacent to or near ISIS-controlled areas, and which borders happen to be 5) the very ones through which foreign recruits are reaching ISIS?

Very good, class. I knew you could get it!

I understand why the President and diplomats don't talk openly about Turkey. Turkey has no love for ISIS but it is suspicious of the Kurds (and vice versa), has supported more radical groups in the Syrian opposition than the West has, and has quarrels with much of the Arab world except Qatar. Anti-Americanism is running high.

And, given the recent transfer of power, it's quite possible that newly-elected President Erdoğan and newly-installed Prime Minister Davutoğlu, after less than two weeks in their new jobs, are sorting things out about who gets to do what. (Or is it one of those Vladimir Putin/Dmitri Medvedev things, where the power resides with whichever one is named Putin?)

Still, I'm sure this was discussed at the recent NATO meetings, since bringing down ISIS without Turkey could be difficult, as revealed by looking at comparative orders of battle or, well, even just a map.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the possibility that the United States could make a massive effort to develop alternative energy sources within the next five year and become a net exporter to Europe and China in ten years? If that were to happen would any American lives ever need to be at risk again in the middle east? Wouldn't terrorism against the U.S. likely atrophy if the U.S., its military and diplomatic baggage simply disappeared?