Iraq and Syria Are Increasingly the Same Battlefield. How Will the U.S. Respond?

The takeover of a major city in Northern Iraq by extremist forces of an al-Qaeda splinter group raises questions about continued militancy in the Middle East and how the region and the United States should respond.

Events in Mosul are also the latest sign of spillover from the Syrian civil war next door, coming just months after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took over key cities in western Iraq. The group, which al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri has publicly disavowed, has said that it seeks to unify areas under its control in Iraqi and Syrian territory. This is part of a dangerous trend of radicalization in the region.

Two weeks ago at West Point, President Barack Obama outlined an approach to combating terrorism that contrasts with that of his predecessor. Instead of relying on extended deployments of U.S. forces as we had in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Obama suggested developing a network of alliances from South Asia to Africa with support from a $5 billion counterterrorism partnership fund. This proposed fund is to allow the U.S. to train and build partners’ capacities to deal with terrorist threats.

This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.