On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama will sit down with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to talk about the strategy to fight the Islamic State. The president will lay out what he wants Iraq to do, including making good on promises to empower Sunni militias and tribes. Indeed, there are many things the United States can do to counter the Islamic State: It can increase the number of special forces deployed in the region; assign U.S. troops as spotters and coordinators with forward-deployed Iraqi units; supply weapons directly to vetted Sunni militias; and increase airstrikes.
But what it cannot do is defeat the Islamic State and eliminate it from Iraq and Syria…. Here is why.
The Islamic State will die only when the Middle East is reborn: This will not happen for years to come, if indeed it ever does. The Islamic State, or more specifically its forerunner, al Qaeda in Iraq, rose as a Sunni insurgency in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and to Shiite regional dominance….
Defeating ISIS requires a Solution to the Syria Problem: ISIS is an Iraqi organization, and Iraq is where its aspirations lie. But Syria is where its putative caliphate has been established, and as a base for expansion it continues to hold promise.