As U.S. military presence in Afghanistan continues to decline, more resources can be utilized in counterterrorism efforts elsewhere. In yesterday’s commencement address at West Point, President Obama highlighted the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen, peace-keeping efforts in Somalia, and the ongoing crisis in Syria as some of the pressing issues that can now be afforded greater attention.
President Obama announced that he plans to address these conflicts by establishing a Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion. According to the president, this fund will be designated to “train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines.” President Obama believes that this can “mobilize allies and partners to take collective action” in a multilateral approach to counterterrorism. The President hopes that this will allow the United States and its allies to further their joint security interests while avoiding direct U.S. military action when possible.
Illustrating this, President Obama proceeded to emphasize his unwillingness to contribute military support to the Syrian rebel cause, but contends this situation as one in which his proposed counterterrorism fund could thrive. Due to the collective nature of the fund, the U.S. can assist the oppressed Syrian population through the governments of neighboring countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, as they work to confront terrorism and provide a safe-haven for refugees. By using this potential resource as a tool to enable its allies, the U.S. may have the opportunity to expand its own flexibility as well as create global consensus around counterterrorism efforts.