Middle East “Allies” decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL

By Juan Cole

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Jedda with ten Middle Eastern foreign ministers produced a communique on Friday, but little more. The regional states promised to do more to stop the transit across their territory of volunteer vigilantes seeking to join the so-called “Islamic State” of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to stop their citizens from sending money to the extremists. That neither of these steps had been taken earlier shows how unseriously Middle Eastern states took the ISIL challenge.

On Friday, faced with another visit of the indefatigable Mr. Kerry, state officials in Cairo, Egypt, were careful to say that they would and could not devote troops on the ground to defeat ISIL. Cairo maintains that its troops are already stretched thin by their current tasks . The Egyptian military is deployed within the country to keep order and to stigmatize the previous regime, on the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. In Sinai and along the Red Sea coast, guerrillas stage frequent attacks on Egyptian troops. In any case, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has other things to do with his army than deploy it directly against ISIL. Perhaps if he stopped maintaining that all Muslim Brothers are terrorists he might have some troops left over with which to deal with ISIL.

Turkey, likewise, has announced that it doesn’t want to get involved with ISIL. The Turkish government has even declined to allow the US to fly anti-ISIL missions from Incirlik Air Base. They will only allow US forces to use Turkish air bases for logistics, i.e. things like ammunition resupply.

Jordan’s main role is apparently intelligence cooperation.

It is a true irony that the two most enthusiastic regional powers in fighting ISIL are Iran and Syria. The Syrian deputy foreign minister explicitly offered Washington an alliance if it wanted one. But the Obama administration has no wish to ally with the brutal Baathists.

As for the West, aside from the UK and Australia, France is stepping up, apparently with an offer to deploy air power against ISIL in Iraq. A Socialist ally may be enough to make the Congressional Tea Party’s heads explode.

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Related video:

Euronews: “Paris looks set to join fight against Islamic State in Iraq”

28 Responses

    • I think that Dr. Cole’s use of the term “socialist” in reference to the French government is satirical, and is a dig against Republicans who have professed to hate everything French since G. W. Bush invaded Iraq and the French wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. Countless Republicans even criticized John Kerry for being fluent in French (he should have spoken only English, just like Jesus Christ), started calling French fries “freedom fries,” and boycotted French’s mustard (a totally American product).

  1. Why would they destroy what they built? ISIS is their tool against Shia. They paid for it. It serves their interests, and those of Israel and the US. ISIS exists because it is useful, it will remain powerful as Long as their masters want. ISIS exports oil and has access to first class military gear. No sanctions for them, just lip service.

    • Exactly, if you look at the geopgraphy of this conflict it falls directly in the middle of the “Shia Crescent”. All the status quo people from Kissenger on down fear the Shia why is that? I believe because the Shia can’t be bought, unlike the sunni gulf monarchies. Simplistic but could it be true?

  2. If the USA really is serious about taking down ISIS then it should accept the offer from Assad.

    And if it won’t accept that offer then Obama may well be willing to talk the talk, but it is axiomatic that his real aims are not at all the same thing as his rhetoric.

  3. Calling Hollande a socialist at this juncture is a little ridiculous. He has betrayed every socialist value and principle in spades.

    • “Why isn’t Israel sending troops to help?”

      The IDF is busy chasing the poor people of Gaza and West Bank.

    • Because Bibi Netanyahu wants the “Shia Crescent” broken up. In May 2013,on the outskirts of Damascus, Israel heavily bombed weapons and munitions being transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.A YOUTUBE video showed Syrian rebels praising Allah when they saw what was happening.

      The better question would be why would Netanyahu be against ISIS? As far as I know, Netanyahu hasn’t made any negative comments about ISIS.

      • ISIS are a good publicity meme for Bibi & Co. They can conflate the Palestinians with IS and it will be repeated as if sage wisdom by their shills. Despite the fact the same shills cover up anything Bibi & Co get up to. And of course, IS are destroying Hizbollah’s supply chain. Perfectly useful idiots.

  4. Chip Pitfield

    It’s not as if the US provides arms to these countries. Oh, wait … perhaps it’s just easier to crush dissent at home?

  5. Coalition of the reeling…..yikes

    Prof Cole do you know what percentage of IS members are former members of the Iraq army that Paul Bremmer disbanded? Jay Garner wanted to leave the Iraq army intact after the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq…is that right? So would it be right to say that the Bush administration’s invasion and tactics or lack of in Iraq created IS?

    • The consequences of that horrific war will reverberate for decades Iraq, Syria, soon Lebanon, then Jordan and Saudi Arabia! Remember that domino theory of the Vietnam era. It’s coming to pass 50 years later. America, as well as ISIS, should be considered the scourge of mankind. Neither recognizes international borders. The only difference is the US uses 21st century methods, while ISIS uses medieval ones.

  6. Why should anybody offer to help fight, when they know that America wants war and is willing to go it alone?

  7. As Jon Stewart pointed out, “our” coalition looks awfully Christian. Who really wants this “holy war”? Who does it benefit?

    Let’s get off oil. Lean towards the light. (Good motto for solar!)

  8. Why should the Arab states help US in her fight against IS? President Obama was resisting the calls to arm the moderate Syrian rebels until recently. Most importantly, he walked away and redrew his red line for Assad last year, to the detriment of the Syrian people, simply based on the empty lip service from the new administration in Iran. America has been helping the enemies of Sunnis to kill Sunnis for the last 15 years, and has helped the creation of a monster called the Shia Crescent that is threatening Sunnis and Sunni states. Now that these American puppets are in danger, President Obama just remembers that there is something called humanity and suffering on the ground, and he needs to do something to help those people who are suffering, while he did nothing to help 200,000+ Syrians who were massacred by the ‘secular’ Assad and his ‘moderate’ Shia helpers. I think the Sunni Arab states are too civil- or maybe too timid- that they did not slap Obama in the face like Turkey. I would have been surprised of the level of their dumbness if they had indeed committed manpower and forces for this fight that is eventually Shias’ fight to fight.

    • Perhaps you should throw your bait somewhere else. We are not going to fall for trolls – other than to “shine the light” on you. You a show a profound lack of appreciation both of Islam (Shi’i and Sunni) and its history, as well as geopolitics. You seem to be have no historical memory (islamic or imperial). So be proud of something else. But a “proud” Sunni you are not!

  9. Are there many young souls in the Middle East that are willing to leave safety to subject themselves to being maimed and killed in a war with ISIS?

    Poor Obama. It must be painful to realize that the US has the only significant ground fighting force in the world that can be put on planes, flown anywhere, and fight with professional fury whomever is pointed out to be the enemy. If he wants additional fight and die help, he’d be better off telling Kerry to visit state capitals to drum up support for activating the National Guard. .

  10. Motivation is always a problem for the U.S., and understandably so. When we send troops to what might as well be another planet, they quickly wonder why, for their blood and effort, we are over there. The opposition, on home territory, is never short of motivation. Yet we endlessly meddle under the idea (that Obama expressed) that only the U.S. has the resources and resolve to do the job. This is pure rhetoric. It is IS that has the resources and the resolve. So, once again, a president acts in order to protect himself politically and we dive into another mess – to destroy IS? Alas, such groups are infinitely divisible and, if “destroyed”, can be reincarnated any time a group wants to give itself the name. This is still the very same impossible to win war on terror that GWB declared, conducted by the man who said it was over.

  11. Perhaps it is just payback time. The US has ignored the Arab states over Israel and the invasion of Iraq. Now when the Americans come begging for support, they can be turned down. There is very little risk this way, either of alienating sections of their own people sympathetic to ISIS or having the US decide they won’t get further involved in an Iraq war now stretching back to 1991.
    Looks like our allies are prepared to fight ISIS to the last American marine if necessary.

  12. The most plausible conclusion is that the various Middle Eastern states see the existence of ISIS as being to their (internal) advantage. The guiding rubric seems to be ‘all politics is local’. The US, engaged in its perpetual internal electoral drama of ‘leadership’ and ‘standing tall’, is stumbling around like a rube among the sharks. Bad luck for those living in the wrong place, outside the fictions.

  13. It’s quite sad/funny watching Kerry buzzing about trying to get his coalition together. It reminds me of a Hollywood party years ago where a well known actor, seriously passed his prime, was set on gathering a group of guests to take to his home for purposes that were far from appealing. Each time he returned to the group with a new victim he found others had absented themselves in his absence. I stayed long enough to savour his increasing frustration which made for a better performance than any he had ever recorded on film.

  14. The M-I Complex can only be sated by war. The profesional military only are guaranteed quicker, more meaningful promotions when there’s a shooting war to do battle in.

    The weapons manufacturers want a shooting war because the military uses up the ordinance, requiring additional manufacturing and the subsequent profitability.

    Most, if not all the major weapons builders are publicly traded companies, the shares of which are owned by major stockholders such as retirement funds, union funds, hedge funds and other major players. Consequently, the whole American nation is in on the war-making scheme.

    The problem stems from ALL of us. Americans profess to be peaceful, peace-loving people, but all available evidence points in the opposite direction. We love to fight and we fight with the biggest, baddest military in the world. We should simply admit our addiction to death and mayhem and stop pretending otherwise.

    • John, you got that right. The U.S. got land from conquest of Indian and Mexican land. It even took the Philippines and Cuba. War is in their genes. No wonder German ancestry is dominant in the US.

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