Speed Reads


Several Arab nations have signed on for anti-ISIS air battle, say U.S. officials

It looks like the U.S.-led coalition to strike against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant organization is becoming a little less "Christian-y," as The Daily Show's Jon Stewart archly described the mainly European group of U.S. partners last week.

On Sunday, U.S. officials said that several Arab nations have agreed to participate in aerial campaigns against ISIS, including surveillance missions, flying arms to Kurdish or Iraq forces, and "actual strikes, if that is what is required," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on CBS's Face the Nation. But Kerry and other U.S. officials didn't name names. "It's not appropriate to start announcing, this country will do this and this country will do that," Kerry said.

There are a few caveats and wrinkles to iron out first. All airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq have to first be cleared by Iraq's new Shiite-led government, which might be tricky with Sunni Arab governments like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And the U.S. won't start its offensive campaign against ISIS until Iraq's government has followed through on its pledge to make Iraqi Sunnis feel more included and less persecuted, until international partners have stepped up with concrete pledges, and until local anti-ISIS ground forces have been properly trained and armed.

Unlike the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "this isn't going to be 'shock and awe' with hundreds of airstrikes," one U.S. official tells The New York Times. "We don't want this to look like an American war."