The Islamic State has proved to be incomparably effective and resilient. In the wake of attacks in the West attributed to ISIS or inspired by the organization, and with a deluge of migrants fleeing its violence, Western and Arab nations are fumbling for answers.
The solution is clear. ISIS’s center of gravity is in Syria and Iraq, where it continues to grow for one specific reason. With Shia militias waging a campaign of sectarian cleansing throughout the Middle East, Sunnis in the region believe that they are safer aligning with a Sunni terrorist organization than remaining vulnerable to the brutality of the Iranian-supported militias. Past and present American allies in the region explain that the strategy to stop ISIS begins with countering Iranian influence and convincing Sunnis that there is no need to align with ISIS.
Policy analysts at the White House are reluctant to take such steps for fear of angering Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal which the administration regards as its key foreign policy achievement. But in the absence of a course correction, the Middle East’s sectarian conflict will continue, with tens of thousands more dead and millions more in flight as refugees.
On December 18, Hudson Institute held a discussion on how to confront the problem consuming the Middle East and implement an effective policy course to destroy ISIS. Hudson Adjunct Fellow Michael Pregent, recently returned from a trip through the Middle East, shared his insights with Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Washington Bureau Chief of the Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai, and Hudson Senior Fellow Lee Smith.