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Arabs Tell U.S., ‘You Do the Fighting’

Offer Minimal Support to Obama's Fragile Coalition

A media frenzy erupted when President Obama admitted he didn't have a strategy to combat ISIS. The ongoing airstrikes he had ordered in
northern Iraq to hold ISIS forces from annihilating the Yazidi sect, to shield the city of Erbil, to drive ISIS from the Mosul dam could not be called a comprehensive strategy, of course, but they didn't seem to count as anything at all for his critics.

Those demanding that he have a ready strategy to pull from his shirt pocket pointed out that we've known about ISIS — which now refers to itself as Islamic State — for a year or more. Why was the administration so unprepared? It has only gradually taken hold that any strategy needs a coalition, just as the enterprises of both Bush presidents were founded on coalitions, and coalitions can only be built when an emergency awakens allies from their complacency.

No sooner had these allies joined the team than they began making their excuses and joined the cheerleading squad. Britain and Germany announced that they won't be participating in the air war. Turkey, with multiple problems, chief among them that ISIS holds 49 of its diplomats hostage in Raqqa, has denied us airfields from which to launch strikes. Beyond those countries Obama's strategy is a mix of moderate militias in Syria, the Kurds' pesh merga, the Iraqi army and Sunni tribes in Anbar province. A hint of this amalgam possibly working came a day before his address to the nation when Iraqi army groups in combination with those tribes and with U.S. air support overhead beat back Islamic State insurgents threatening the Haditha dam.

But counting on somehow "reconstituting" an Iraqi military that, after years and billions of dollars spent training them by the U.S. military, had discarded their uniforms and turned tail and run when it faced ISIS forces this summer, is a wishful foundation for a strategy. And Richard Engel, reporting from the region for MSNBC, says moderate forces in Syria barely exist. They finally gave up when U.S. support was not forthcoming; their officers quit and went home. His family says the moderates sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS.

For allies we also count on the new Iraq government to include Sunni and Kurd representation, another hopeful yearning. With ISIS chewing away their country, the Iraqi government took months to force out prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, select a new prime minister and come up with a list of cabinet appointees. But it has nothing but Shiites, many of the same names as before, even proposes al-Maliki, whose exclusion of all but Shiites from government led to al Qaeda in Iraq metastacizing into the far more violent ISIS.

the missing Arabs

But where are those other allies, the Arab countries, they who have the most to lose as the black flag of ISIS spreads like spilled ink? Theirs is a history of avoiding action, of relying on the U.S. for protection, and once again they have held back.

One would think they would acknowledge some responsibility for this latest crisis. It is the Saudis, as well as Kuwaitis and Qataris, who have all along been funding the growth of Salafism and Wahhabism — the most severe Arabs Step Up?: Sept. 15: Secretary of State John Kerry said a couple of Arab states have said they would assist in the fighting, but he would not say which ones or to what degree.

branches of Islam. Those countries are considered “permissive jurisdictions” for terrorist fund-raising by the U.S. Treasury, whether as countries or as wealthy individuals. They fund the madrassas that indoctrinate the children. The Saudis recruit around the world for the University of Medina where students are taught fundamentalist Islam and sent home home to proselytize. Qatar has provided "sanctuary, media, money or weapons" to the Taliban, Hamas, Syrian rebels, Libyan militias and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis send their emissaries to their embassies and consulates in Muslim and other countries to promote Salafism.

Together, these countries have planted the seeds of the invasive species that has burst forth in ISIS's extreme form of Islam, declaring itself as the Islamic State, the new caliphate, and seeking to turn back the clock a thousand or more years to emulate the rule of the Abbasid caliphs, restoring the barbaric practices of beheading, stoning, amputation, crucifixion and mass execution.

This poses a threat to the lavish and absolute rule of the monarchies in those countries. Yet they are waiting to see just what military and financial resources the United States will commit before considering assisting us. They seek "a White House pledge to more aggressively pursue Islamist militias in other countries" besides Syria and Iraq. Their effrontery of actually making demands of the United States is jaw-dropping yet doesn't seem to stir any outrage from either the administration or the media. Nor has the Saudis' incessant criticism of the U.S. over the last three years for our not intervening in Syria. While their hundreds of F-16s sat on the tarmac, they say the rise of Islamic State is our fault for not supporting the moderate rebels. Are we certain that chutzpah isn't also an Arabic word?

The Saudis have also said they want first to be assured that the new Iraqi government will be accommodating to Sunni concerns before they will consider any action, but their wait for circumstances to be just-so leaves it up to us and others to hold back the barbarian horde.

Saudi Arabia has some "250 combat-ready aircraft" by their own count. They sport the AWAC surveillance system that we sold them over Israel's objections. There are "at least 20,000 air-force personnel" says an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by a Saudi expert. But just as they left it to America in 1991 to eliminate the threat of Hussein sending his army down the road to add Saudi Arabia's oil fields to those taken from Kuwait, the kingdom thinks America should do the fighting for them.

As for the United Arab Emirates, that the UAE can attack militias in Libya, flying from bases in Egypt in late August, shows they have the capability to back up the United States. So why haven't they presented themselves to the coalition?

What does it say about our timidity when, literally on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we see Secretary of State John Kerry, hat in hand, in Saudi Arabia — the country that produced 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers — trying to persuade the Saudis and Arab Gulf leaders to join when we should be laying down "or else" conditions. They have pledged to stop the flow of of fighters and money to Islamic State and ever so magnanimously will allow us to train Syrian fighters on their soil. But as for committing their show horse military? They evasively say they would join only "as appropriate".

In his speech, we welcomed Obama saying "we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region". But what if the Arab nations again choose to be spectators? Does Obama have a hidden clause in his strategy which says, we're outa here Arab world, we'll tuck in at our borders and leave you to chaos and carnage?

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