Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | ISIS | Syria | airstrikes | coalition | Iran

Mideast Sectarian Divisions Plague Coalition

Image: Mideast Sectarian Divisions Plague Coalition
The International Conference for Peace and Security in Iraq, at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, France. (Michel Euler/Pool/EPA/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 08:26 AM

The effort by the United States to build a Middle Eastern coalition for the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) is being hampered by longstanding sectarian divisions in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Arab allies are divided about whether Iran and Syria should have a role in any proposed military campaign. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials have publicly insisted in recent days that there will not be any coordination with the governments in Syria or Iran, but Russia insists that airstrikes in Syria must be coordinated with the countries.

Iraq's new leaders blasted America and its allies for refusing to invite Iran to a meeting of 26 countries in Paris on Monday which discussed the strategy to counter the militant group. Kerry said that the countries were excluded, in part because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatened to boycott the meeting if Iranian officials were in attendance.

"We had insisted for Iran to be there and we regret their absence," Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in Paris, according to the Journal. He said that Tehran had already given "significant support" to the country in the fight against ISIS.

Kerry did, however, acknowledge there have been private conversations with Iran's rulers and said the United States was open to more discussions in the coming weeks. 

"We're not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we're open to have a conversation at some point in time if there's a way to find something constructive," Kerry said Monday, according to the Journal.

The United States has also rejected offers by the Syrian government to assist in the effort, but the country's allies have warned that excluding the regime could stoke more conflict in the region and a possible backlash against the American military in the region, as was the case during the war in Iraq.

Other allies also signaled hesitance to commit to a military campaign in Iraq and Syria, including the United Kingdom. U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would play a "leading role" in the fight against ISIS but refused to specify details on its involvement.

France, however, has already committed to joining the American air offensive, having mobilized its Air Force Monday to deploy jets for intelligence gathering.

The divisions come just one day after the Obama administration announced that a number of Arab allies have pledged to help with the airstrikes.

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The effort by the United States to build a Middle Eastern coalition for the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) is being hampered by longstanding sectarian divisions in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Middle East, ISIS, Syria, airstrikes, coalition, Iran, John Kerry
403
2014-26-16
Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 08:26 AM
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