Sisi calls on Arabs to field united force against ISIS


Sisi calls on Arabs to field united force against ISIS
By JPOST.COM STAFF/02/24/2015

Addressing his country in a televised speech on Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared that the time has come for a united Arab effort against the Islamic State group, CNN reported Monday. “The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day”, said Sisi, citing supposed offers by both Jordan and UAE to help in such an endeavor.

Egypt, which has been fighting against an insurgency waged by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an Islamic State affiliated group which has recently changed its name to the “Province of Sinai,” has recently begun aerially striking Islamic State targets in Libya, a maneuver that marked Cairo’s first military operation outside its borders in decades.  Sisi’s declaration was lauded by some, including one military analyst who highlighted the speech’s significance.

“Strategically and politically for the region, this is a big deal, and it’s absolutely the right first step,” said the analyst, retired Maj. General James “Spider” Marks.  Although Sisi introduced the idea, he did not provide any details of what such a pan-Arab force might look like.  Currently US aircraft are leading the airborne fight against the Islamic State, carrying out 80% of the airstrikes against targets on the ground, according to a figure released by US Central Command.

Arab states have been party to coalition bombing runs. Following the filmed immolation-execution of a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State, Jordan took a more aggressive stance against the jihadist organization, increasing the frequency of sorties aimed at targets in Syria and Iraq.
Critics of this strategy have asserted that air strikes can weaken the Islamic State group but not ultimately eliminate it, adding that the forces that are currently fighting on the ground, such as the various Kurdish groups, or the Iraqi army, are not necessarily willing or able to completely wipe the self-imposed caliphate out.

This sentiment was echoed by another analyst, who spoke to CNN’s “New Day” program. “The airstrikes aren’t going to get the job done. We need the Arab states to be the ones to eventually put the boots on the ground. Whether they actually end up doing it and being dedicated to this, we’ll have to see.”