President Obama has been very clear that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the Iraqi people, to the region, and to U.S. interests. We are convinced that the only way to fight ISIL is through strong coordination by Iraqi leaders across the full spectrum of Iraqi society and with the support of the surrounding nations.
This isn’t a question of choosing sides in Iraq. As Secretary Kerry said on June 19, “ISIL is a vicious terrorist organization with a proven agenda of violence, and its expressed aim is to take territory and terrorize the Iraqi people.” The President’s order to send military advisors to Baghdad is part of our continuing commitment to the people of Iraq to face down this threat.
ISIL’s brutal tactics have raised the specter of sectarianism and proven time and time again that its real agenda is the destruction and dismantling of the freedoms and rights that the institutions of the Iraqi state should provide. Its history of betrayal, infighting with erstwhile allies, and political failures will doom its terrorist agenda to failure, but not before trying to subject the Iraqi people to yet another cycle of violence and grief.
More recently, in Syria, ISIL has fought and killed respected moderate rebel leaders and has even fought its own sister terror organization, Jabhat al-Nusra. ISIL has tried to hijack the Syrian revolution, and just like the Asad regime, is attacking rebel towns, fighting rebel forces, and torturing Syrian activists. Rather than fighting to liberate the country from the Asad regime’s brutality, it is trying to destroy any trace of the Syrian revolution by imposing its own brand of oppression against the Syrian people.
And ISIL is trying to expand its destructive agenda to Iraq.
All Iraqis -- and all of Iraq’s friends and neighbors -- have a vital interest in mounting an effective response to the threat ISIL poses. The United States will continue to work with a broad spectrum of Iraqi leaders and regional allies to advance stability in Iraq, support an inclusive political system for all Iraqis, and neutralize ISIL’s terror agenda.
About the Author: Ambassador Alberto Fernandez serves as Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC).