The absence of leadership by the Obama administration has led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq and a destabilization of the entire Middle East region, M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, tells Newsmax TV.
"The bottom line is what we're seeing in Iraq is just a small percent of the savagery that's happening inside Syria and the rise of ISIS in Iraq is a byproduct of the lack of American policy in Syria," Jasser said in an interview with "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth, adding that "it's very complicated, but the lack of a Syria policy has bled over into Iraq and has caused a destabilization of the entire region."
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Jasser said the conflict demands leadership from the United States and a recognition of the serious threat posed by the Islamist ideology.
"We need to have a president like Ronald Reagan who defined the Soviet Union as being the Evil Empire. We need a president who has the courage to identify Islamism as the evil ideology that it is and that it needs to be defeated,"he asserted.
While communism was the greatest threat to liberty in the 20th century, Jasser views Islamism as the most dangerous threat in the 21st century.
"Islamism is the largest threat in the 21st century. Islamism is the global aspirations of those who seek to advance a theopolitical ideology, that the state should be governed by a constitution, which is the Koran and the clerics and clergy should be able to control law by Sharia or Islamic law."
While confronting Islamism is the broader goal, Jasser argued that the U.S. does have a role to play in the current crisis.
In the short-term, he said it would be advisable for the United States to take an approach similar to that taken in Yemen by launching targeted air strikes against al-Qaida forces within Iraq. But, he adds, it is crucial to couple short-term strikes with a long-term strategy.
"In the long-term, there is a need to have a vision in the region. But so far, the president has been disengaged from having any vision in the region and as a result it's allowed the worst actors to thrive. What we really needed was some type of forces agreement — as we have in Korea and Germany. Without us being present there, it'll just degenerate as we've seen within a few years. That's the long-term problem, but in the short-term we need to stop them from reaching Baghdad," suggested Jasser.
Although polls show a lack of consensus among the American public for re-engagement in Iraq, Jasser says leaving Iraq on its own would be what he terms the "Darwin policy" that would just devolve into a sectarian conflict.
He further noted that now is not the time for the U.S. to abandon its allies, as unsavory as they might be, in the region.
"If we're going to see a transition generationally in the Middle East, the short term again is to maintain our allies and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is one of our allies,"Jasser said.
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