Obama in Tallinn

http://tinyurl.com/q8oqhfm

On September 3, President Barack Obama said, while being in Tallinn, one day before the NATO Summit in Wales, that  “the bottom line is this, our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy (Islamic State) so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States”[1]. In trying to deliver a very strong message concerning the IS (ISIS) threat, Obama argued that “whatever these murderers think they will achieve with killing innocent Americans like Steven [Sotloff], they have already failed […] they failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated.”[2] Nevertheless, it is obvious that lacking strong on-the-ground intelligence is deterring Washington from taking all necessary further steps against ISIS. This is why Barack Obama noted that “we don't have a strategy yet”[3] and that “it's going to take time for us to be able to roll them back.”[4] A series of factors contribute to this grime perspective as the U.S. President added that “destroying the militant group will take time because of the power vacuum in Syria, the abundance of battle hardened fighters that grew out of al-Qaeda in the Iraqi war, and the need to build coalitions, including with local Sunni communities”[5].

These comments were made one after the moment when, on September 2, “the Islamic State militant group released a video on purporting to show the beheading of a second American hostage, journalist Steven Sotloff, raising the stakes in its confrontation with Washington over U.S. air strikes in Iraq.”[6] ISIS previously claimed “in a video released Aug. 19, that Sotloff would be killed if the U.S. continued to attack in Iraq.”[7]

The UK is also seriously concerned because “IS extremists threatened to kill a British hostage in a video of US journalist Steven Sotloff's killing.”[8] Consequently “David Cameron is coming under increasing pressure to find an effective strategy to tackle Islamic State.”[9]

Addressing the IS (or ISIS) threat is quite difficult mainly because of the fact that U.S. does not want to gain support from – or offer support to – Assad, nor does it want to openly interfere in Syrian policy too much. Tensions between the U.S. and the Syrian president clinging on to power have been triggered by many factors, among which the strongest is the well documented use, by the Assad regime, in 2013, of Sarin gas against civilians.

[1] William MACLEAN, “UPDATE 8-Islamic State issues video of beheading of U.S. hostage”, Reuters, September 3, 2014,at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/03/iraq-crisis-islamicstate-video-idUSL5N0R34IZ20140903

[2] Ibidem

[3] Tia GOLDENBERG and Julie PACE, “Slain US journalist was also an Israeli citizen”, Associated Press, (AP) September 3, 2014, text accessed at the Internet address http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_SYRIA_SLAIN_JOURNALIST?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-09-03-12-43-27

[4] Ibidem

[5] William MACLEAN, op. cit.

[6] William MACLEAN, op. cit.

[7] Shirley LI and Polly MOSENDZ, “ISIL Has Beheaded Journalist Steven Sotloff ”, The Wire, September 2, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/09/isil-releases-video-of-steven-sotloff-beheading/379479/

[8] Ben WRIGHT, “How will Britain respond to Islamic State hostage threat?”, BBC News, September 3, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29042129

[9] Ibidem

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