Bringing more than 20 countries together, the session was meant to prompt the United States and its regional cronies to reappraise their approach and strategy to defeat the terrorist group. Instead, it kicked off with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi blaming the lack of support from the coalition for ISIL’s military gains, the most recent of which was the surprise takeover of Ramadi.
In his words, world powers have failed Iraq; aerial bombardment campaign is insufficient; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are very small; and Iraq needs the support of the world but we are not getting it. In other words, the US-led alliance has failed Iraq and it is worthy of critical review:
– The participants said they were ready to supply the Iraqi army with advanced anti-tank weapons, while Russia and Iran have been providing weapons, aircraft, intelligence and military advisers for more than a year now. Strange enough, they were not invited to the summit.
– The coalition is a mistake, as it has no UN Security Council mandate. The summit didn’t investigate how ISIL finances arms purchases and recruits mercenaries from around the world. It didn’t name and shame those who have financial links with the group, mainly its oil purchases. This is while major impact in the fight would come from straining its financial support.
– American complicity in the rise of ISIL is hardly an anomaly. Some of its allies are also the ones that created ISIL in the first place. They helped the extremist group to destabilize, polarize and radicalize the entire region along the sectarian lines.
– The US is encouraging its proxies in Syria to work with al-Nusra Front. It has green-lighted a new coordinated effort of Persian Gulf countries and Turkey to arm an opposition alliance that includes other al-Qaeda affiliates. If they really wanted to defeat ISIL and al-Qaeda, they would stop empowering them. A good place to start would have been the Paris summit…
All the while, the US-led coalition continues to adopt a ponderous strategy, with no intention to go anywhere except repeat what it has been doing already. This is while ISIL, a non-state actor, continues to threaten not just the Iraqis and Syrians but also the rest of the world. The greatest current regional and global threat has caused one of the largest displacements of people in history. It has also motivated one of the widest recruitment of foreign fighters ever recorded.
The biggest mistake is to treat the terrorist group as a low priority issue and ignore the real anti-terror actors, even embarking on new political landscape gardening projects in places like Yemen. That’s what the coalition has been doing thus far and that’s exactly what they echoed during the Paris charade. So expect further setbacks and shocks that will be felt well beyond Iraq and Syria.