Thank You, Obama, for Joining the Coalition

President Barack Obama is happy that he has built a military coalition of 20 countries, including five Arab countries, to fight the Islamic State. An American friend of mine said that in fact President Obama was the one who joined the coalition, not vice versa. After saying “no” for two years, the president was finally convinced, and announced Tuesday morning that Islamic State sites in Syria had been attacked.

This is the fourth American war in our region. But the Islamic State-Syria war is different from the previous American wars: The liberation of Kuwait, toppling of Saddam Hussein, and combating al-Qaida were all widely opposed by some countries, nations and groups. However, this present war got a great international support and reasonable acceptance from the people in the Islamic and Arab world; even those who oppose it do so with the minimum effort. To participate in this war, a tough competition took place among different countries. Iran was hoping to be the main partner with the United States in the coalition. The Islamic Republic declared its support to fight the Islamic State from the beginning. It was Tehran’s intention to secure safety for the Syrian regime, and to launch a new era of relations with Washington that would guarantee its regional influence. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were planning to be the main partners with the United States, to exclude Iran and Syria, and to make sure that the West would be committed to fight the Islamic State.

No matter how much support Obama is enjoying now, final judgment will be on final results. This war might not be easy to win despite the international and regional collaboration and enthusiasm to the mission. The Islamic State is four times bigger than al-Qaida; when it was at its peak, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. The amount of ammunition and funds it has makes it a grim enemy. Therefore, maintaining the public support in the Islamic and Arab countries is a more important factor than ever to win this war. The Islamic State wants to survive on the sympathy and faith of the people, though until now it did not play the card of political incitement, as might be the time is not appropriate. In the future, the Islamic State will pursue convincing the public opinion that the conspirator West is fighting a group of Muslims who are supporting the oppressed and victims in Syria and Iraq. There are also some regional forces, like the Syrian regime, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood groups, who will try to deepen the crisis and depict the war as claims made by the United States to prepare for a new invasion!

The truth is, we were appealing to President Obama for American intervention, and he was against it. Now all parties hurt by the Islamic State are in agreement to join the coalition and participated in attacking it. We should emphasize to President Obama that no win in Syria can be achieved without getting the support and participation of the Syrian forces, particularly the Free Army and the similar factions. Tomahawk missiles and the coalition jet fighters will not be enough to defeat the terrorist groups that will escape and hide in Syrian cities and villages.

This same fact made the Assad regime release conflicting and embarrassing statements. The regime was lost and had no clear stand. In the beginning, the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that his government will not accept and will not allow any air force to infiltrate the Syrian skies without its permission. The Americans replied they were not going to seek any permission. The Syrian representative at the U.N. then said that would be a violation to sovereignty and against the international law. The Americans said there was not a legitimate regime to begin with, and that the Islamic State’s killing of Western hostages was a legitimate cause to launch a war, since the governing regime was not able to act. It should be said that Iran and Russia are not angry because of targeting the Islamic State, but for not being participants in making the decisions and forming the coalition.

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