President Barack Obama has touted the involvement of Arab nations – many of them Sunni-majority – in US air strikes against Islamic State militants. But will this coalition hold up to the scrutiny of their own internal politics?
What a difference a year makes.
President Barack Obama limped to New York last year for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, unable to generate sufficient domestic or international support for a military response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons within the deepening Syrian civil war.
He settled for a compromise that eliminated Syria’s chemical weapon stocks, useful strategically but damaging to American credibility within the Middle East.
This week, Mr Obama provided a dramatic backdrop to the gathering of global leaders by launching military strikes against Islamic State (IS) and al Qaeda’s Khorasan network in Syria, both of which are stronger and more threatening than they were a year ago.
The air strikes can certainly help to “degrade” extremist capabilities in Iraq and Syria, but by themselves will not be enough to “destroy” them, one of the stated objectives of the emerging campaign.