Diplomacy: 10 Arab States Promise to "Do Their Share" in Fighting ISIS

Posted: Sep 12, 2014 12:45 PM

The international community is slowly if hesitantly coming around to joining the global fight on terror. Last week, for example, the Arab League tepidly endorsed a joint resolution to fight the terrorist organization ISIS. At minimum, this was a formal recognition that the Arab League and the United States have mutually beneficial interests and goals in seeing this army of murderers wiped off the face of the earth.

At the same time, Secretary of State John Kerry has been in the Middle East attempting to galvanize international support for the president’s 4-pronged strategy to combat ISIS, which was outlined Wednesday night in a primetime television address. To that end, he recently met with foreign ministers from nearly a dozen Arab nations, all of whom (except Turkey) signed a communiqué to “do their share” in vanquishing this threat, according to the New York Times:

Arab nations vowed on Thursday to “do their share” to confront and ultimately destroy the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The promise came after the nations’ foreign ministers met here behind closed doors with Secretary of State John Kerry. A joint communiqué issued by the United States and 10 Arab states endorsed a broad strategy to stop the flow of volunteers to ISIS, curtail its financing and provide aid to communities that had been “brutalized” by the militants.

It also called for a coordinated military campaign in which nations would contribute “as appropriate.” Mr. Kerry, who was the only Western foreign minister at the meetings here, sought to use the talks to mobilize support against ISIS, a day after President Obama declared that the United States was prepared to carry out airstrikes in Syria in an effort to degrade and eventually defeat the Sunni militants. None of the Arab participants said precisely what they would do, and it remained unclear whether any would join the United States in mounting the airstrikes.

As outlined by the president on Wednesday night, the United States will not commit ground troops to the region. The president is thus relying on the peshmerga and other ground forces to take the fight to ISIS. But what role, it's worth asking, will Arab nations have in this joint undertaking? More details from the communiqué:

The communiqué said that the participants had discussed a strategy to “destroy” ISIS “wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria.”

It said steps would be taken to stop the flow of foreign fighters and money to ISIS, repudiate the group’s “hateful ideology” and provide aid to rebuild affected communities.

The communiqué made no explicit mention of training Syrian rebels; rather, it said that the signatories would join “in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign.”

Even if the Arab world does not commit wholesale to this fight, stopping the flow of arms, personnel, and cash to ISIS terrorists is essential -- and not unrelated -- to defeating them. After all, we learned just today that ISIS’ ranks have swelled to perhaps as many as 31,500, way above the initial estimates the intelligence community first furnished us with.

Having these nation states on board, then, is a small yet significant step towards cutting off and ostracizing these butchers. Put simply, as the president keeps reminding us, their cooperation will go a long way.