Speaking on BBC World, Carnegie’s Frederic Wehrey discussed U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent meeting with the defense ministers of the more than twenty countries taking part in the coalition against the Islamic State. While the members of the coalitions have their own interests and in some cases use their participation as leverage, Wehrey said the purpose of the meeting is to forge a common strategy and vision behind the anti-IS campaign.
He argued that the situation on the ground is going to be a long-term challenge of empowering local partners. American officials are focused on the Iraqi theater of operations because it is the most alarming in terms of the advances by the IS. “There is a partner there that can be worked with,” Wehrey argued, “they’re trying to shore up the Iraqi security forces, they’re trying to advise them, equip them, they’re trying to co-opt the Sunni tribes so that’s really where the focus has to be in terms of stopping this advance.”