The U.S. is currently in the process of lining up a regional coalition to confront ISIS. Depending on how this coalition is formed and the goals to which it is devoted, it could be extremely useful for shutting down the flow of funds, guns, and fighters to jihadist groups in Syria. I'll have a lot more to say about that in another venue.
But there's just one point I want to throw out there now, because it doesn't seem to be getting much play: when Arab regimes set out to fight "terrorism" they almost always use it as pretext for political repression. When I hear an Arab leader talking with the United States about confronting terrorism these days, what I see is the journalist Mohammad Fahmy and the dedicated activists Alaa Abd el-Fattah, Ahmed Maher and Mahienor al-Masry rotting in an Egyptian prison on trumped up charges while Secretary of State John Kerry opines on Cairo's path to democracy.
Most, if not all, of the Arab regimes earmarked for the anti-ISIS coalition have spent the last few years dramatically ramping up the arrest and abuse of activists, journalists and independent voices of all persuasions. Saudi Arabia may crack down on terrorist financing, but it's also going to take the opportunity to sentence the liberal activist Raif al-Badawi to 1000 lashes. Most of the other Gulf regimes have been doing the same, combining moves against extremist groups with heavy-handed repression of political opponents.
The international pressure on these regimes to ease these abusive practices -- already pretty depressingly scant -- will probably dry up completely as they sign up for the campaign against the new ISIS threat. That's short-sighted in the extreme, of course, since autocracy, institutional dysfunction, the absence of democracy, disregard of the rule of law, and pervasive abuses of human rights create the environment in which extremist trends thrive in the first place. But it seems pretty likely right now. A new "war on terror" will probably be just what the counter-revolutionary coalition needed to legitimate their repressive ways and close the book on the hopes of the Arab uprisings -- for now.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, probably the most senior U.S. official tasked with human rights, should be sitting at the table alongside the security-focused officials during the formation of the anti-ISIS coalition (if, unlike Bahrain, they don't kick him out of the country). It probably wouldn't help, but it would be a useful step.