James Zogby: Gulf States Need to Step Up in ISIS Fight

Friday, 22 Aug 2014 12:19 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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America's allies in the Gulf — Jordan, Egypt and the government of North Africa – must confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a "cooperative, regional fashion" if the terror group is to be effectively dismantled, according to James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, appearing Friday on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

Calling it an "important challenge" for the Middle East, Zogby said the U.S. should provide "tactical assistance" but that the meat of the mission should lie with those in the region.

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"America can help, but needs partners on the ground to do the job," he said. "The last thing we want to see or that we should want is to see America directly engaged, fighting itself alone as we did in Afghanistan, trying to uproot and destroy this group. It would not succeed, it would be a mission that we would be ground down fighting for years to come with untold consequences to the homeland. We can be supportive, but folks got to step up and say, 'this is our fight, we got to wage this fight' and then America will have their back in the fight."

Zogby said he thinks the surrounding nations will "rise to the occasion," noting that the Saudis have already taken some steps in the right direction.

President Barack Obama and his administration have not done enough to "play the role of convener," a necessity in defeating ISIS, according to Zogby.

"We haven't even publicly brought folks together around the challenge of what they have to do," he said. "Helping them set an agenda and organize their forces. As much as this is an Iranian challenge and Iran is engaged in Iraq and it's a Saudi challenge, America has to convene Iran and Saudi Arabia and say, 'this is bigger than both of us, this is bigger than both of you and us and you've got to figure out a regional way to create a security framework that helps defeat this extremism and create stability in Iraq.'"

Zogby pointed out that referring to the group as ISIS, which only denoted Iraq and Syria, is misleading.

"It never really was the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, its Iraq and the Sham," he explained, referring to the Arabic term of "the broader region that was greater Syria that includes Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, etc."

"The aspirations of this group are larger than the two countries is the bottom line here. They see the creation of the Sunni states across the entire swatch of the Middle East."

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