How ISIS has impacted US and how US has changed its foreign policies to protect its allies in the Middle East?
ISIS is a Middle East terrorist group which stands form Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Stan, 2). The terrorist group began in 2004 under the name al Qaeda but rebranded two years later to ISIS (Gerges, 6). The group in Iraq which was similar to Osama’s bin Laden’s al Qaeda their anti-Western beliefs and devotion to Islamic states (Gerges, 6). However, Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda disowned ISIS when it proved to be more brutal. ISIS puts governing structures in conquered territories including legislative bodies, financial bodies, cabinets and governors. Their hierarchy resembles that of western countries. One of the biggest resources to the ISIS government is oil resources. ISIS has spread fast and is currently occupying large territories of Iraq and Syria. Oil fields are part of the ISIS conquered territories. Under ISIS power, oil is finding its way back to the black market and earning ISIS up to $3 million everyday. This makes the group financially empowered and unstoppable. Apart from conquering territories in the Middle East, ISIS inspires and directs terrorism in the world.
The US foreign policy focuses on protecting the United States of America from terrorist attacks, encouraging the spread of human rights and democracy in the Middle East, and supporting U.S. allies in the Middle East who needed U.S. protection (Prifti 14). Israel is one of these allies and has had close relationships with the United States. The United States has many times offered financial and military assistance to its allies to protect them from wars they cannot handle. The U.S. foreign policy also serves its own personal interests on matters concerning oil in the Middle East. Currently, ISIS is the force affecting foreign policy in the United States. ISIS continues to grow in the Middle East, especially in Syria. The growth of ISIS poses major security and economic dangers to the United States also affecting its foreign policies.
ISIS is a direct threat to the U.S. most importantly for its anti-western beliefs. Should ISIS control the Middle East, it will jeopardize oil resources for the U.S. The U.S. policy on how to destroy ISIS is aimed at degrading and destroying the organization (Rafizadeh, 13). US strategy in destroying ISIS at the beginning involved multilateral coalition with other partners fighting in Syria and Iraq (Katzman et al.). The United States has been offering military and financial aid to the militants fighting against ISIS both in Syria and Iraq (Alex and Carly 150). The U.S. coalition began bombing ISIS stronghold in 2014. Airstrikes led by U.S. led coalitions helped local forces gain control of areas such as Kobani in Syria, and Baija, Sinjar and Tikrit in Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition had launched 11,000 airstrikes that forced ISIS to lose 40% of their territories in Iraq and 10% in Syria.
U.S. actions to assist the Free Syrian army and other moderate elements resisting Assad’s brutal suppression became ineffective therefore calling for a policy change (Lovelace 13). Obama policy moved to minimize the involvement of U.S. in the Middle East after the long and inconclusive wars in the region (Forsythe and Monshipouri). Most of America’s policy in the Middle East have involved seeking democracy through forceful means, especially in the Persian Golf. The removal of non-democratic regimes has been the focus of the foreign policy, especially under the Bush administration (Oualaalou 39). During the Obama administration, military engagement in Syria and Iraq (the most ISIS dominated countries) reduced, which could be as a result of ISIS threats to attack three cities in America.
January 2016 saw to the establishment of a new center whose goal was to counter violent extremism. Violence against ISIS is causing the group to attract sympathizers from allover the world. The U.S. has thus been forced to change its policy to less violence. With the ISIS growing in Syria, Syrian refugees were moving out of Syria and moving to countries such as the U.S. As a result, Trump’s administration created a travel ban to prevent the entry of ISIS members into American soil. Iraq was, however, removed in light that the country is an ally and not a threat. The lifting of the travel ban was in light of Iraq cooperation to fight ISIS within its borders and to provide travel information of Iraqis traveling to the U.S. (Dinan). There is fear that further engagement with ISIS will force it members and sympathizers in the U.S. to launch attacks on American soil. On January 27, 2017, the Trump administration issued a 120 days’ suspension of the refugee admission program thus preventing the entry of Syrian refugees. The foreign policy during Trump’s administration is aimed at reducing security threats posed by Syrian refugees. There is also increased screening of refugees from Syria to prevent the admission of ISIS members in the country. Refugee policy during Trumps administration is aimed at reducing the threat of terrorist entry into America.
According to Mahdi, energy considerations and the need to control the global oil system have always affected the United States foreign policy (80). Economic self-interest is in most cases a factor in foreign policy. Apart from ensuring peace and democracy, protecting access to oil in the Middle East is among the key foreign policy goals (Welch 555). U.S. oil interest has affected foreign policy changes as the war in the Middle East causes major oil disruptions.As a result, the U.S. has continued to promote democracy in the Persian Gulf to protect its oil interests (Gholz 453). Oil interest is not the only factor affecting foreign policy. During the Obama administration, military forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq. This move was meant to allow the countries to fight terrorism within their bodies while at the same time preventing the death of more American soldiers (King25).
America’s foreign policy has grown since the 9/11 attacks. The war on terror policy that was first initiated by President Bush involved military intervention and airstrikes. However, with the growth of ISIS, America has changed its policy from military intervention to diplomatic interventions. External factors affecting foreign policy include the growth of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The United States has as a result designed foreign policies to fight the insurgent groups. The main focus of the foreign policy is to prevent the entry of ISIS members in America. Consequently, travel bans have been issued, and screening of refugees has become more thorough.
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