The Obama administration must now think seriously beyond defeating ISIS and certainly beyond reaching an agreement with Iran about its nuclear program. Iran has the capacity and the intention to disrupt any political arrangement in Iraq that does not serve its interests.
It must be made abundantly clear to Tehran that the US will not tolerate any subversive actions to undermine the welfare and stability of the newly established Sunni state. To deter Iran from acting mischievously, the US might have to provide security guarantees to the Sunni state, along the line of its commitment to the security of the Iraqi Kurds.
This will also have a serious positive impact on the proxy Sunni-Shiite war waged both in Syria and Iraq between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional dominance, which may otherwise last for decades to come.
The lack of a clear American strategy in Iraq to which President Obama recently admitted ("We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis") is baffling. It raises the question of how the US could engage in a war without having a clear strategy to defeat the enemy, and what the desired outcome should be.
It is not only that the Iraqi troops are not fully trained and combat-ready; even if they were, they will not defeat ISIS on their own, with or without the support of Iranian militias.
This lack of a strategy allowed extremist groups of all political and religious persuasions to converge on Iraq and Syria and take advantage of the chaotic situation that has swept both countries.
It is time for the Obama administration, with its coalition partners, to develop a strategy to defeat ISIS, which of necessity requires the introduction of significant ground troops, assembled from the coalition that will include an American contingent to bring about a swifter defeat of ISIS.
Short of this, ISIS will continue to expand its territorial control and become further entrenched, especially in the Sunni provinces, which will make its defeat ever more difficult and costly.
In conjunction with introducing troops, the US must give the Iraqi Sunnis the assurance that their future political independence is secure.
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