US Airstrikes Alone will not Defeat IS

Military intervention has become a demand of different Iraqi parties and the government, placing the current US decision in circumstances that differ from 2003. The US decision comes in tandem with the demand of the UN Security Council to help Iraq in its war against IS.

The US announcement was preceded by leaks about airstrikes that would be carried out against IS in northern Iraq, where the organization has been battling the Kurdish peshmerga. The United States had denied these leaks, yet Obama affirmed during his speech that aid would be delivered to the displaced population stranded on Mount Sinjar.

Consistent throughout these developments is the idea that the war against IS should be an Iraqi decision before being a US or international decision. This war requires producing Iraqi agreements to end the rupture between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. These agreements should drain the blood-pumping resources of terrorism.

Such an agreement will not take place without the Iraqi political circle adopting courageous measures to allow the expansion of the cabinet representation base, the imposition of state sovereignty and the formation of a more resilient Iraqi army. These measures will not be implemented anytime soon, which prompts additional questions about the limits of the US military intervention, and how it will aid the powers on the ground that are fighting IS.

The defeat of IS — and the time required to do so — depends on the ability of Iraqis to settle their disputes. Throwing IS outside the border will take more than a couple of days, especially if the US decision to intervene turns out to be a departure from an internal consensus and if these airstrikes are unable to alter the balance of military power against IS.

What’s more, the war on IS in Iraq will not be decisive given the organization’s control over large swaths of Syria, and its comprehensive war against the Syrian regime and the opposing armed groups.

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