SAN FRANCISCO, 7 October 2014- Controlling an area equivalent to the distance between Illinois and Virginia and with an income of over a million dollars a day, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) blurs the boundary between statehood and terrorist group through its incredible scope. Originally was a part of Al Qaeda before separating in February 2014, after a refusal to leave Syria despite orders to do so, ISIS has been known in the Middle East for its brutality and enforcement of its authority. However, the American media and public finally took more urgent notice with the recent executions of American and British journalists. ISIS, now known for their brutal enforcement of their ever expanding rule, is seen as a threat to numerous countries worldwide.
According to the State Department, 62 countries have joined the U.S. led coalition to fight ISIS. Countries in the coalition have offered varying levels of participation from air strikes, to logistical support, to humanitarian aid. Both nation groups as large and complex as the European Union and the Arab League have joined the coalition.
While the United States has taken a leading role in military strikes against ISIS, American forces have been joined by numerous other allies. These allies providing military support in the form of air strikes or military equipment include Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Czech Republic, Albania, Netherlands, Estonia, Hungary, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, and Lebanon.
Air strikes have been primarily targeted at the ISIS command structure and at interrupting the organization’s funding. Recent American attacks on the night of September 24th were aimed at ISIS controlled refineries in Syria. These refineries had been used to manufacture fuel from ISIS controlled oil fields in Syria and Iraq. Sales of this oil on the black market are believed to form the backbone of the group’s estimated 3 million dollars of daily income.
Military partners not participating in air strikes have primarily provided support to Kurdish forces combating ISIS and supply ammunition and weapons, as well as body armor and rations.
Coalition partners not participating in military strikes against ISIS nor providing military supplies have instead provided humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict. These nations include Sweden, Kuwait, Switzerland, Japan, Austria, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Norway, Luxembourg, and Qatar.
Other coalition partners have expressed support for the fight against ISIS, but have not provided either military or humanitarian support. To date, these nations are Bulgaria, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kosovo, Oman, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Singapore, and Taiwan. In addition, Andorra, Bosnia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Tunisia, and Ukraine. They have all been identified as part of the coalition by the U.S State Department, but have made no specific commitment.
In a speech to the United Nations on September 24, 2014, President Obama urged other countries to join this coalition. Obama took a strong stance against ISIS extremism and warned potential supporters of ISIS of future attacks from the U.S against ISIS. A leaders’ session of the UN Security Council led by President Obama unanimously passed a new resolution aimed at ISIS. Under the resolution, countries are required to enact laws to prevent citizens from traveling abroad to join terrorist groups or fund terrorists.
In a further indication of the United State’s changing perspective on ISIS, Obama promised arms and support for moderate Syrian rebels – an idea previously labeled by the administration a fantasy. Obama’s new efforts to support moderate Syrian rebels is indicative of the urgency he feels to take action against ISIS.
As of October 7th, ISIS has nearly reached the Turkish border, despite numerous coalition airstrikes, while military options, such as troops on the ground, are being explored to fight the growing conflict.
This is the first in a series of articles about the war with ISIS.