In recent months, the Obama administration has been roundly criticized for its perceivably rudderless foreign policy. Following Secretary Kerry’s failed attempts at a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the administration was in need of a win.
That win has come not a moment too soon for the Yezidi people of northwestern Iraq. Trapped by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) on Mount Sinjar, they’re outgunned, and without water. But last night, President Obama authorized humanitarian airdrops to the Yezedi refugees. In the same speech, the president also approved the use of airstrikes, if necessary, in order to stop the advance of the fanatical religious group.
“The U.S. cannot and should not intervene every time there is a crisis in the world,” the president said. But he added, “We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.”
“Today, America is coming to help.”
The president’s orders to the U.S. military are supported by the Iraqi government. Indeed, Iraq has, quite literally been begging the United States to aid them in their fight against the pure evil that is the Islamic State. Already, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians and Yezidi have been forced to leave their homes and possessions behind in order to flee the jihadists. Across Iraq, other Iraqis, Shia and Sunni alike, live in fear of beheading or worse. Because when it comes to the Islamic State, the limit of their horror is only defined by the extent of their awful imagination.
Still, the president’s decision is good news for America and the world.
For a start, it helps the Kurds — key, reliable allies of the United States. Today, air strikes are authorized if IS attempts to move closer to the Kurdish city of Erbil. The Kurdish Peshmerga and Kurdish Peoples Protection Forces (YPG) have been fighting IS on multiple fronts, with some success. However, they have recently requested aid from the U.S. in the form of weapons and equipment. With the president’s authorizing humanitarian aid and air strikes, a glimmer of hope has appeared for the Kurdish fighters and increasing number of displaced civilians.
But it’s not just the Kurds. The Sunni tribesmen that recently “rose up” against the Islamic State also have much to gain through U.S. aid. The recent uprising from the Shiatat tribe in Syria, coupled with the influx on Kurdish fighters from Turkey, has been so effective that the IS was forced to call to Iraq for reinforcements. With the entry of U.S. airstrikes, the IS Iraq front may now be unable to comply with that request.
That would be good news for everyone that isn’t a jihadist.
Not only is U.S. assistance be critical for the resistance against IS to succeed, it is also critical for the Obama administration. From Obama’s infamous “red-line” debacle and subsequent inaction in Syria, to the constant extension of deadlines regarding a nuclear Iran, Washington was in sore need of a foreign policy victory. The aid and airstrikes are a small step, but a certain one in the right direction.