Regional support is key

The confrontation with the Islamic State (ISIS) became an international conflict the moment it crossed the border from Syria’s civil war into Iraq. If the intention is “degrading” and “destroying” the group through airstrikes, these will unavoidably affect Syrian territory.

Having the U.S. attack a new country in addition to Iraq is very serious. America’s involvement in the conflict—ironically—is the best advertisement for Islamic extremists to recruit followers. The idea of a declining capitalism waging a crusade against Muslims has a certain magnetism.

Therefore, it is extremely important that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates participated in the first airstrikes in Syria. The fact that Sunni-majority nations are attacking a group that claims to represent the world’s Sunnis (and to create a state for them) is extraordinary—particularly because some of these American allies financed ISIS at one point.

It is exactly this ambivalence about the emergence of Islamic terrorists, so extremist that al-Qaida rejected them, that President Barack Obama referred to in his message yesterday to the U.N. General Assembly.

The fourth point of his speech focused on the responsibility of the Arab and Muslim worlds in preventing the radicalization of their youths.

After all, the struggle that ISIS began intensified a longstanding religious conflict between Shiites and Sunnis.

In this situation, the U.S. does not have much to do. Regional stability is an American interest. However, it has to be a much more important matter for the countries in the region, whose borders are being threatened by ISIS’ ambition to establish a giant caliphate like centuries ago.

Terrorism is a serious problem, with many followers who are willing to sacrifice themselves while killing innocents for a cause. The issue of ISIS won’t stop that temptation. However, the Arab nations are responsible for stopping ISIS and its attraction. If the U.S. is endangered by this threat, the countries of the region are much more exposed to it