By Sal Bommarito
President Obama has a lot on his mind these days. Clearly, his comfort zone is domestic affairs and not international turmoil based upon his speeches, actions and inaction. The ISIS crisis is not improving; one can be fairly certain of this because the administration would be broadcasting any gains in the conflict.
It is time to review the current situation in Iraq and Syria given that several months have past since the hostilities began. Congress will likely do the same in the new year. There are many things for all peace-loving people to be concerned about.
The U.S. is not degrading ISIS based upon anything reported in the press. There appears to be a stalemate as the insurgents have become more cautious about exposing themselves to air and drone attacks.
Yet, the cruelty and strident attitude of the ISIS murderers continues. From time to time, the media documents atrocities against innocents including women and children.
Millions have become refugees and lost their homes in both Iraq and Syria. The winter months will not be kind to these unfortunate people.
The political, financial and social implications of the refugee exodus are placing great strains on Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As anticipated, the citizens of these states are becoming more critical of the inflow of aliens. The cost of caring for refugees is creating great financial instability.
The impact of air strikes is predictably minor. The marauders are hiding in populated areas, so the risk of collateral damage is great. The radicals are fortifying their positions, so it has been difficult to target them. Exacerbating the situation is the inexperience of Iraqi soldiers acting as air strike controllers. It has been reported that ¾ of the bombing sorties return to base with their ordinance. Either the pilots cannot find acceptable targets or cannot obtain permission to strike. Employing U.S. air strike controllers on the ground would surely rectify this issue.
The Arab countries in the region are being distracted from the ISIS threat by other concerns. This could be a dangerous in the long run because ISIS is positioned to move against Iraq and Syria’s neighbors. Iran and Turkey are the most vulnerable.
Specifically, Iran is principally interested in completing a nuclear deal with the U.S. and others. Turkey wants Bashar al-Assad ousted and is paranoid about Kurdish aspirations for independence. Saudi Arabia is knee deep in the oil price drop together with the sustainability of the country’s regime. And finally, Sunnis and Shiites continue to hate and kill each other.
The U.S. is always looking for an opportunity to ship arms to groups that are friendly towards American interests. Unfortunately, the shipment of weapons to militias throughout the Middle East who are fighting ISIS could backfire, literally. These weapons could very well be sold to terrorists or used to fight American forces.
The issue of ground troops continues to hang over our leaders like a black cloud. No American wants to see our brave soldiers in harm’s way; they have suffered enough over the past decade. No American wants the U.S. to be nation building in Iraq or Syria for an extended period. But, if ISIS is dangerous and poses a national security threat, the U.S. must ensure the group is destroyed using the appropriate amount of force.
How will a ceasefire be negotiated with ISIS? Who is leading the group? When you think about it, the hurdles to peace, just relating to ISIS, are seemingly insurmountable.
There is a growing concern about exportation of terrorism by ISIS to America and other western nations. The threats are growing every day. When Al Qaeda became a huge security risk, the U.S. went to war with aircraft and soldiers. Why is ISIS any different?