News / Middle East

Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assadi
X
Scott Stearns
August 28, 2014 8:39 PM
The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with the international community to combat these resurgent militants.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem says Damascus welcomes even the United States, which is backing Syria's more-moderate opposition.

"The coming few days will judge the seriousness of regional and international countries in fighting terrorism. Until now we have not sensed this seriousness," said al-Moallem.

Getting that sort of cooperation would be a big boost for Assad, says American University professor Akbar Ahmed.

"It would exonerate him and in a sense it would also establish his legitimacy in the eyes of his own regime that look, 'We did all this because it was necessary. There may have been some bloodshed, but it was necessary. And here is the proof, that even the West - who are the biggest critics of what we are doing - even the West, the United States and the U.K. have now come onboard,'" said Ahmed.

But acknowledging the Islamic State threat - and attacking its fighters in Iraq - does not make Washington an ally of Damascus even as State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the Obama administration considers a range of options "not limited by borders."

"That doesn’t mean that our view has changed of the brutality of the Assad regime and the brutality of the actions that he has taken against his own people," she said. "But given the growing threat of ISIL, it is a threat that we need to take on and work with countries in the region to do that."

Regional leaders agree there must be a broader coalition to defeat the Islamic State, even if that may directly benefit Syria's government and its allies, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"The risk is that we are in some ways rewarding Iran, rewarding the Assad regime, rewarding the Russians for bad behavior to the extent that the Assad regime, with Iranian and Russian support, created the conditions that permitted the rise of ISIS for the Saudis and the West to now become involved in solving the problem that those governments and those movements had a hand in creating suggests that we are helping them to avoid the consequences of their own policies," he said.

Center for a New American Security analyst Nora Bensahel says there is "very careful thinking" in Washington about the Islamic State.

"The United States certainly does not want to be seen as intervening in the civil war, period, much less being seen as intervening on the side of the Assad regime. So that's why we're seeing a lot of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions now starting to be flown so the United States can get a better picture hopefully of what's going on on the ground to inform future decisions," she said.

U.S. military action against Islamic State fighters so far has been limited to airstrikes in Iraq, but there may be more direct involvement in a broader fight that President Obama says "won't be easy, and it won't be quick."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More