Yesterday, the White House provided a background briefing via conference call for reporters covering President Obama’s speech last night on the American response to the advance of ISIL. A “senior administration official,” who was not identified by name fielded the question of “which countries will join the United States in launching airstrikes in this area?”
The administration official is now probably glad he was not identified. He probably should have consulted a map before giving this answer:
ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region.
This White House confusion over Mid-East geography was noticed by Tom Anderson, Director of NLPC’s Government Integrity Project. Tom tweeted it out and it was quickly retweeted by Twitter heavy hitters like Ron Fournier. A New York Times blog picked up on it.