DENVER (CBS4) – President Barack Obama says he has a plan to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS. Experts on the topic met at the University of Denver on Monday who agree with the president on broadening the U.S. mission.
After meeting with NATO allies in Europe, Obama will tell the nation what he has in mind on Wednesday. That news came on the same day experts talked about what should be done at DU.
The panel discussion included a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and professors of Middle Eastern studies. Although they differed slightly on courses of action, they all agreed that something needs to be done to stop ISIS.
“Some estimate that it has as many as 12,000 fighters from 81 countries,” said Deborah Avant, DU Professor and Director of the International Security and Diplomacy Center.
“We’re talking about a problem that’s been there for 1,300 years,” said Chris Hill, who was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2009. He’s now the dean of DU’s School of International Studies.
Hill commends the president’s call to action, but says it’s important for people to understand where the organization came from and why it must be dealt with using military, social and political action.
“When the president says, ‘Well we don’t have a strategy for that yet,’ he’s talking about an extremely difficult proposition,” Hill said.
Hill says ISIS is well funded through Middle Eastern corruption, and the key to bringing it down is making ties with those countries to stop it, and exploring new ways to make peace with the multiple different factions of the area such as Sunni’s, Shiites and Kurds.
“The president, I think, has also put down a marker that he doesn’t anticipate seeing U.S. combat troops on the ground,” Hill said.
Moving forward experts say the militant group can be traced back to the first U.S. invasion of Iraq and the aftermath. Hill says once ISIS is taken down, it’s important to do so in a way that a new one doesn’t take its place.
“What is the future of Syria? Because right now it’s a very broken country and it’s very unclear where we go from here with Syria,” he said.
President Obama will meet with members of Congress to discuss the administration’s strategy and let lawmakers debate the plan. On Wednesday he’ll announce that plan to the rest of the country.