Speaking on ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live, Carnegie’s Lina Khatib discussed U.S. President Obama’s strategy speech to defeat the Islamic State. Khatib said that “the speech marked a significant turn in U.S. foreign policy towards the Syrian conflict, because this is the first time that we’ve seen declaration of intention on part of the United States to engage in this conflict militarily.” Khatib added that the speech was also very positive, because Obama stated that Arab countries “are also responsible for taking part in securing the region against Islamism with international cooperation.”

Khatib pointed out that Obama spoke about a broad coalition, leaving the door open for Iranian involvement further down the line. She clarified that back channel talks had been already taking place between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are driven by the shared concern over the Islamic State—an enemy to both countries. However, Khatib continued, “we don’t know what the nature of compromise or cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iran might be. However...I think we can expect to see Iranian involvement—whether direct or indirect—sometime in the future.”

Khatib concluded that Obama’s campaign against the Islamic State would be a long-term campaign. “Had the United States intervened diplomatically very early on in the Syrian uprising ,” said Khatib, “we would not be where we are right now. However, speaking pragmatically, the speech and strategy that’s presented is certainly better than the alternative, which is doing nothing and allowing Syria to fall back into the hands of the Islamic State and the Assad regime and expand further in Iraq.”

This interview was originally broadcasted on ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live.