Confront with a coalition

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he returns from travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, at the White House in Washington August 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council next month to discuss the threat posed by ISIS, and the irony will be in high gear.

Just over a decade ago, Washington did everything in its power to assemble a “coalition of the willing” against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, based on the spurious allegations that his regime and its weapons of mass destruction posed a threat to the global political order.

But these days, after the Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS outpaced its mother organization and served as a magnet for foreign nationals to travel to Syria and Iraq to engage in “jihad” against all sides, the leaders of the international community appear to be sleepwalking as they confront the problem.

While there have been near-daily calls for something to be done, the skepticism of people in this region is only reinforced when this rhetoric lacks meaningful, robust and multilateral follow-up. An international coalition is needed, but not if it is going to merely talk about the problem, or focus on the repercussions without tackling its roots.

The Syrian regime has been trying to engineer such a scenario ever since the country’s popular uprising erupted in 2011. It released a significant number of hardcore Islamists from its prisons in the hope they would hijack the largely civilian and nationalist rebellion.

When world leaders gather next month to discuss ISIS and the phenomenon of transnational, violent jihadists, they must take meaningful action against the regime that gave this entire movement a huge push, and not act as if ISIS was born in the summer of 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 29, 2014, on page 7.




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