News / Middle East

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Henry Ridgwell

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years.  There is growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.

In just two years, the self-described Islamic State group has gone from being a loose coalition of Islamist rebel groups to a formidable fighting force that controls swaths of Syria and Iraq.

America’s response so far has been limited airstrikes launched from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.  It will not be enough to defeat the terrorists, says Thomas Hegghammer, director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo.

“Airstrikes alone are not sufficient.  They might just stir the hornet’s nest," said Hegghammer.

Speaking Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama again ruled out putting American troops on the ground in Iraq.

“We’ll not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq.  Because ultimately it is up to Iraqis to bridge their differences and secure themselves," he said.

There is an element of gamesmanship in the diplomatic strategy between the West and Iraq, says Hegghammer.

“The tendency [is] for local countries to wait for a big country like the U.S. to step in and foot the bill in terms of money and human costs.  The challenge is to avoid that, to get the local actors more involved to take more of the cost," he said.

The current inaction is strengthening ISIS, says Shiraz Maher of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London.

“At the moment there is absolutely no momentum or appetite to put boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq.  And without that unfortunately, it looks impossible to challenge ISIS," he said. "The Syrian and Iraqi armies aren’t capable of doing it, no Arab force is going to do it even if it has the capability to do so, and that’s what makes ISIS such a potent threat."

Recent actions by ISIS - including the slaughter of Christian and Yazidi minorities and the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley - appear to be designed to provoke the West, says Hegghammer.

“ISIS might want a medium-sized Western intervention in Iraq, one that’s big enough to give ISIS political credibility and help them with recruitment, but one that’s not large enough to dent them seriously, in military terms," he said.

On the ground in northern Iraq, Kurdish forces have been on the front lines fighting ISIS. Several Western countries have offered them arms.  That will give them the capability to take on ISIS, says the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative in London, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.  

“We’re not calling for boots on the ground.  We have our own boots: we have the Peshmerga," she said. "But we are calling for more assistance, particularly more airstrikes, weapons for the Peshmerga, logistical support and sharing of intelligence."

Whether such Western support will lead to the defeat of the Islamic State remains uncertain.  But the United States and its allies are resolute that ground troops will not be returning to the deserts of Iraq anytime soon.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

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