If Sunni states do take up arms against the Islamic State, it will not be because “that’s not what Islam is about,” but because it is not in the interests of states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to acknowledge a caliph and give up their sovereignty, and because significant elements of the populations of Egypt and Turkey don’t want to live under Islamic law, such that the governments of both states (despite Turkey’s not-so-secret support for the nascent caliphate) may find it in their interests to take down the Islamic State.
“Obama outlines strategy to ‘ultimately destroy’ Islamic State,” by Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2014 (thanks to Darcy):
The United States and its allies aim to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group Islamic State, President Obama said Friday as he began to outline a U.S. strategy focused on gathering partners from Sunni Arab states and aiding fighters on the region’s front lines.
“Our goal is to act with urgency but also make sure that we’re doing it right, that we have the right targets, that there’s support on the ground … that we have a strong political coalition,” Obama said at a news conference as a NATO summit wrapped up in Wales.
In one respect, his remarks were a damage-control effort aimed at undoing the political problems he caused last week by saying that his administration did not yet have a strategy to combat the militant group, at least in the territory it controls in Syria. They also served as a rebuttal to a growing chorus of critics who’ve described Obama’s foreign policy as deliberative to the point of dithering.
Obama provided a window on what he described as his “developing strategy,” one that has expanded far beyond the initial goals of protecting U.S. personnel and reaching stranded refugees.
One major piece of the strategy for weakening the threat from Islamic State, Obama and aides said, will be the support and participation of the neighbors of Syria and Iraq.
“It is absolutely critical that we have Arab states, and specifically Sunni-majority states, that are rejecting the kind of extremist nihilism that we’re seeing out of ISIL, that say, ‘That is not what Islam is about,’ and are prepared to join us actively in the fight,” Obama said, using one of the acronyms for Islamic State….