US coalition's lack of strategy about means a rough Ramadan ahead

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jun 19, 2015 01:38 IST

'Too many cooks spoil the broth’ may not be quite the adage to explain the actions of the US-led coalition of nations against Islamic State and other terror groups in Iraq and Syria. Instead, ‘too many cooks with no specific recipe is likely to create an unpalatable mess’ is more fitting.

Much of the mayhem we now see in west Asia is thanks to the myopic policies of the western nations, especially the US. Given this, one would have expected Washington to have an antidote for this disaster. But that’s not the case and none other than US President Barack Obama, on June 8, admitted that there wasn’t a “complete strategy” to train the Iraqi security forces or defeat ISIS.

West Asia today is a minefield of conflicting interests and any move will have more adverse consequences than intended benefits. For example, this lack of unity is evident in Turkey’s actions and reactions in the fight against ISIS.

Ankara has been negotiating with Washington to impose a no-fly zone over Syria before it joins the US-led coalition in air strikes against IS targets and also wants to train moderate Syrian rebels groups. Both these requests are aimed at removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power — which is not the best option at the moment.

Similarly, Ankara does not view favourably the advances made by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) along the Turkey-Syria border. On Monday the YPG declared it had taken back from IS the strategic town of Tel Abyad, in the Raqqa province.

Monday’s capture underscores the realisation of the Kurdish autonomous regime of Rojava or Western Kurdistan — something Turkey is likely to oppose. Similar reservations have been expressed by Sunni kingdoms against Iran’s involvement in the fight against IS.

With Ramadan having started, IS is expected to target Shia holy sites. There are increasing chances of Anbar, Baghdad, Aleppo, among other cities, coming under heavy attack from IS and its affiliates. The attack on an airbase in Egypt, the bombing of warplanes in Libya, and the reports that IS is recruiting in Afghanistan — all point to the fact that IS is expanding its presence. The terror group is also expanding into the subcontinent. Reports that it is gaining a following in Pakistan and the IB alert against IS attacks in India confirm this. Conflicting interests, a lack of strategy and indifference to the turmoil are prolonging the agony in west Asia.

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