Hero of the Week

By Kevin Lair

Senior Elm Writer


Over the past few weeks, we have seen strengthened international coalitions bringing the fight to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and promoting stability in Ukraine. These coalitions are growing in size, strength, and the geographical origin of their members.

In the Middle East, a growing number of Arab nations are responding with force after the horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Youssef al-Kasasbeh. Countries like Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have orchestrated airstrikes on ISIS militants in Syria. According to Central Command, coalition nations that have conducted airstrikes in Iraq include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the US.

US officials claim that there are more coalition members than those listed who have assisted in these combat operations but do not wish to be identified publicly. These coalition forces are not only increasing the frequency and strength of their airstrike campaigns—they are also providing intelligence, advising and training ground forces, and considering the deployment of ground troops.

In response to Russia’s incursion in Ukraine, American and European leaders increased diplomatic efforts, meeting with their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts with hopes of a cease-fire and de-escalation of the year-long conflict that has claimed over 5,000 lives, according to Reuters. The frequency of these talks has increased as pro-Russian separatists continue to lay siege and make gains throughout Ukraine.

Most recently, leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine gathered to discuss peace options for the region. Following 16 hours of talks, a peace deal was reached on Thursday, Feb. 12, which would see Ukraine retain the separatist regions and regain control of its border with Russia. Meanwhile, Russia would hold considerable leverage in preventing Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The cease-fire is set to begin on Sunday, and it remains to be seen whether this peace deal will last or fall apart as did one arranged in September.

These international coalitions are crucial for several reasons. First, the increased number of members allows for amplified strength whether in the form of increased airstrikes on ISIS or greater pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Second, the coalitions illustrate a stronger voice and deepening resolve, illustrating unity within the international community. Third, they represent the views and determination of nations other than the US. These vast coalitions illustrate that it is not simply the will of the US but the joint voice and force of nations around the world seeking freedom, justice, and peace. These louder voices bring real results, stalling ISIS advances and hopefully establishing a lasting cease-fire in Ukraine.

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