There are no plans for Jordan to send in combat troops to fight ISIS
“The death of our pilot actually created a wave of anger, not only in Jordan but also in the Arab world and in the Muslim world and the international community as well,” Jordanian Media Minister Mohammed al-Momani said in an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I think people are convinced more than ever that we should be looking seriously into this phenomena of terrorism and this terrorist organization and we should do whatever it takes in order to fight terrorism and extremism.”
Jordan launched a round of airstrikes that al-Momani said did “significant damage” to ISIS, destroying 20 percent of known targets over three days. But at least one American officials is hoping the Jordanians and other Arab countries translate that fury into a stepped-up response to fight the Islamic militants.
“I believe the airstrikes have been limited, had limited success. It’s a policy of containment not a policy to degrade and destroy the enemy,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, in a separate interview on “Face the Nation.”
McCaul said he hoped the pilot’s death would “galvanize” Arab nations to fight ISIS both in the air and on the ground, saying, “I think that under U.S. leadership if we could galvanize these Arab nations, Sunni Arabs against Sunni extremists, ISIS in Syria, that would be the ideal.”
Airstrikes alone are “not sufficient to date” to take out ISIS entirely, McCaul said.
So far, according to al-Momani, there are no plans for Jordan to send in combat troops to fight ISIS but that option is not necessarily off the table.
“At this point coalition members are not speaking about boots on the ground. Having said that, this is a war. And [Jordanian King Abdullah] at some point, described it as a third World War,” he said. “If circumstances change we will discuss it at that point.”
For now, the Jordanians plan to follow the lead of other members of the U.S.-led coalition and provide help to the Iraqi military, Kurdish armed forces and Syrian opposition forces who are fighting ISIS on the ground.
But some say that may not be enough.
Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who is now a CBS News Senior National Security Contributor, said that the U.S. has still not figured out the best way to defeat the group in Syria.
“Training 5,000 moderate opposition a year which we haven’t even started to do yet is not a large enough number in my view,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “We have to get Syria right because if we don’t get Syria right ISIS will just come across that border as we have success in Iraq and we wouldn’t really have gained anything.”
The U.S. has succeeded in “stopping the ISIS blitzkrieg across Iraq,” Morell said, arguing they would have taken Baghdad if not for U.S. intervention. At the same time, they have spread “faster than anything we’ve ever seen” so that now there are terror groups in Algeria, Libya and Egypt taking on their brand.
He also said that it still doesn’t pose the biggest threat to the United States.
“Does ISIS pose a threat to the United States? Absolutely. Does it pose a threat to the order in the Middle East and the borders and the whole system in the Middle East? Absolutely. But is it the biggest threat to the homeland right now? No,” Morell said.
[Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] is a bigger threat; al Qaeda in Pakistan is a bigger threat, and the Khorasan group which is a part of the al-Nusra group in Syria which is separate from ISIS, is a bigger threat right now so perspective is important,” Morell said.
Tom Donilon, President Obama’s former National Security Adviser who appeared alongside Morell, said that the U.S. and the international coalition have put forward a “substantial” response to ISIS but there is still more to be done.
“This is a long term effort that will go well beyond President Obama’s administration,” he said. “Taking back territory requires an effective on the ground effort. We don’t have that yet; we’re building that, and frankly its months away.”
“I think it an be done by the way by training the Iraqi security forces and providing them with the support that they need and shrinking ISIS, and by the way pushing back on their narrative of success which is absolutely, absolutely critical here,” Donilon said. “Another key thing we’re going to have to do though, in addition to the ground effort in Iraq, is getting the politics right.”
He said a “real challenge” will be getting political reconciliation and power sharing in Iraq to ensure future stability.