Sanders: Arab Nations Must Step Up Fight Against ISIS

BURLINGTON, Vt., Sept. 30 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will not be defeated until neighboring Muslim nations deploy ground troops against the terrorist organization. 

Sanders also strongly disagreed with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who said on Sunday that the United States may have “no choice” but to send ground troops into Syria. 

“The war against ISIS, a brutal and dangerous organization, cannot be won unless the Muslim nations which are most threatened – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Jordan – become fully engaged, including the use of ground troops,” Sanders said.  “The U.S. and the international community should be fully supportive but the leadership in this war must come from the Muslim world.”

Saudi Arabia, where the autocratic royal family is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, was the fourth largest defense spender in the world in 2013.  Saudi Arabia spent more than $59 billion in 2013, more than either Great Britain or France.

“Saudi Arabia has a large and modern air force and a strong standing army. They should not expect that American taxpayers and the U.S armed forces will do their work for them. If the campaign against ISIS is to be successful, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Jordan have got to become fully engaged.  In the Middle East, this war cannot be perceived as West versus East, Christian versus Muslim or the U.S. versus ISIS. It must be seen as a war in which Muslim countries throughout the region are standing up for their beliefs against an extremist and brutal organization which has grossly distorted the tenets of Islam.” 

Sanders also expressed strong disagreement with Boehner over U.S. combat troops in Syria. “The use of U.S. combat troops in Syria could well get us into a Mideast quagmire and perpetual warfare in the region. Instead of spending tens of billions on war in the Mideast, we should be investing in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of decent-paying jobs here at home,” the senator said.