The Daily Star
As the anti-ISIS coalition – which includes over 60 countries – meets in Brussels, it is worth considering what exactly it has achieved.
The coalition has bombed the jihadis in Iraq since August and in Syria since September, yet the militant group – which most of the world had not even heard of a year ago – still holds swaths of land in both countries, maintains large financial reserves and continues to terrorize vast civilian populations.
Meeting Wednesday, the allied foreign ministers admitted that the battle against the group would likely take years, and, conceding they were in it for the long haul, agreed to continue holding such conferences every six months.
The coalition includes many of the world’s major powers, and at first glance is mighty indeed. But it was pulled together in quite an ad hoc way, and it is now reasonable to ask: Is it capable of much more than building castles in the sky?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile did not comment explicitly on American reports that Iran was conducting its own airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. If true, these reports indicate another dimension to the messy situation, for if there is any coordination between the U.S. and Iran, will the Gulf coalition partners be eager to remain part of the project?
Or is this entire effort merely a boondoggle meant to distract us from the wider failings of the international community on Syria and Iraq more broadly, quite aside from the advances and terrors of ISIS? With over 200,000 dead in Syria now, and no sign of the regime-sponsored violence abating, are we really to believe that the coalition has any cohesive plan for the region? Or is this part of a wider plot against the region?