Anti-ISIS coalition: Govt mulling over support

The Singapore Government is taking seriously the threat that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses to the region, but it has not yet decided whether to join the United States-led international coalition to counter the group.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted yesterday that Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians are among the 12,000 foreign fighters who have gone to join the ISIS.

"We are happy that the Americans have taken a stand against ISIS. This is a threat to people all over the world," Mr Lee told reporters in Hong Kong.

But the situation is a difficult and complicated one, he noted.

"How we can support the American-led effort? That's something we can discuss. We have not reached a point of making a decision yet. Even how the Americans are going to pursue this and what they're going to do, they haven't quite decided yet," he said.

"They're not going to put troops on the ground. It's not one of those situations where you can say, 'Those are the bad guys, let's knock them out'. You're talking about 30-something thousand fighters, they command a very substantial piece of land, they have resources... they've got oil.

"And they were also fighting the government in Syria, which, (until) very recently... was seen as the bad guys. (They're) also fighting against the Iranians.

"In the Middle East, things are never so simple and you can't come riding in on a white horse, knock out the bad guys and tomorrow, peace breaks out."

This article was first published on Sep 19, 2014.
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