Potential Challenges Exist for U.S. Plans to Confront ISIS

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The United States President, Barrack Obama, has addressed the threat posed by the Militant Islamic group ISIS in a speech earlier today at 9.00 pm ET Wednesday. He has vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the jihadist group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL). This will involve a coalition of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere to deal with the terrorist threat.

Over the course of the year, these Sunni extremists have seized sizable portions of Iraqi and Syrian territory where they have subjected the local populations to extreme brutality and their own brand of religious tyranny. Along with the harsh treatment and executions that have been administered by the members of ISIS, the situation has also resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe as many of the locals fled the advancing militants.

The Whitehouse states that the President’s speech will outline the dangers that the group poses to the world and plans for “Degrading and ultimately destroying” the extremist faction. While the U.S. has already started attacking ISIS positions through the use of targeted airstrikes, the mission of destroying ISIS will need to go much further than the current strategy and there are some significant hurdles that could make the task difficult.

The first problem comes in what the actual goals of the mission may be. If the goal is to destroy ISIS as the Whitehouse is claiming, success will demand a level of engagement that will require direct action against the enemy, including American and coalition soldiers fighting on the ground and budget that will almost certainly reach into the billions. The U.S. military does have the practical capability to pull this off, but with a mid-term election set for November and a U.S. public that is likely to be hesitant in supporting another military campaign in the region, it could be hard to get the necessary support of the U.S. Congress.

Furthermore, there are some political concerns in the region that make this a tough play for American foreign policy. While there are local military factions, like the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army that the U.S. does support in the fight against ISIS, the primary enemies of the radicals include Syrian President Assad and Iranian backed militias.

Most analysts agree that allowing ISIS to hold territory and setup a state of their own is a serious danger to the stability of the region and that it will probably spillover and cause problems outside the Middle East. However, removing them from the scene will not be a simple operation and it remains to be seen whether all of the necessary parties have the will to act.

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