Dempsey: Arabs Should Join Campaign Against IS

Gen. Martin Dempsey says the success of the campaign against IS depends on getting more Arab help.

Ben Ariel ,

Martin Dempsey
Martin Dempsey

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday that the U.S.-led military campaign plan to retake Iraqi territory held by the Islamic State (IS) calls for attacking the extremists from several directions simultaneously, and its success depends on getting more Arab help.

"We want them to wake up every day realizing that they are being squeezed from multiple directions," Dempsey was quoted by NBC as having told reporters.

"If we can get [IS} looking in about five different directions, that's the desired end state," he added.

Dempsey stressed the importance of gaining more Arab participation in the U.S.-led effort, suggesting that without it the military campaign might not move to its next phase.

He called wider Arab participation a prerequisite for President Barack Obama's approval of the military campaign plan. Obama was briefed on the plan last week but has not okayed it.

Secretary of State John Kerry has already received the backing of 10 Arab countries for what was described as a "coordinated military campaign" against IS.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said on Saturday that Cairo would be willing to help the U.S.-led coalition against the IS.

Asked if Egypt might provide airspace access or logistical support for airstrikes, he said, "We are completely committed to giving support. We will do whatever is required."

He appeared to rule out sending troops, however, saying that Iraq's military is strong enough to fight the militants and that "it's not a matter of ground troops from abroad."

The Middle East has been galvanized since June when Islamic State fighters, already in control of much of Syria, swept through northern Iraq, seizing cities, slaughtering prisoners, and proclaiming a "caliphate" that would rule over all Muslims.

The White House says the group is a threat to the West as well, attracting fighters from around the world who could return to carry out attacks at home.