By Christina Davis
The stage has been set for the drama of the fate of Syria. This past week the United States signed an alliance with five other Arab countries to aggressively eliminate all members of the so-called “Islamic State”, commonly known as “ISIS”.
The intentions of the formal alliance are to deter ISIS access to Syrian oil fields. These oil fields serve as the main source of illicit income for ISIS, allowing them to become a more formidable terrorist force than their predecessors. More than ten airstrikes have been conducted in Syria since the alliance was formed between the United States and five other Arab allies. By using planes and drones to strike specific targets close to the oilfields, military officials hope to deter and ultimately eliminate ISIS proximity in the region.
The airstrikes themselves are not meant to wipe out ISIS, but to cut them off from their source of monetary support. The group itself is incredibly interwoven into the Syrian community and will require other methods of deterrence, short of having actual boots on the ground. Planes and drones allow for accurate actions against ISIS without endangering the lives of military men and women as well as innocent civilians. Officials intend to carry on counter-ISIS measures from the sky.
With Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar backing the U.S. airstrike measures, the hope is that the airstrikes will effectively separate ISIS from the oilfields. One group of beneficiaries from the airstrikes is the Syrian Kurdish fighters who are struggling with ISIS forces in a strategic area of Syria along the Turkish border. Their continued struggle with the ISIS onslaught at the border has already benefitted from the drone and plane airstrikes conducted by the U.S. this past Saturday.
While the U.S. has made its intentions against ISIS clear, true reform will not occur unless it is approached at the state level. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the crises in his country, and only with his involvement will an effective counter-policy be sustained. External forces such as the recent airstrikes can help with the immediate need to counter ISIS action, but for long-term success in Syria, local government and military force will also have to become active characters in the play.