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The West must unite to destroy ISIS

Surendra Kumar
Surendra KumarSep 20, 2016 | 09:05

The West must unite to destroy ISIS

US President Barack Obama founded the ISIS!

"Crooked" Hillary Clinton is the cofounder! Thus quipped the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump.

Hillary hit back, saying Trump is unfit to be the US president. His supporters are "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobes"!

Blame

Trump is wrong. Obama didn't create the ISIS. President George W Bush did. However, Obama must take the blame for mishandling developments in Iraq, Libya and Syria that facilitated rapid expansion of the ISIS, declaration of a Caliphate and degeneration of Libya and Syria into haven for jihadi fighters.

He should also own up the responsibility for failing to bring the regional players on board to fight the ISIS together.

The seeds for the birth of the ISIS in Iraq were sown by the US invasion in 2003 on the trumped up charges of Saddam Hussein having amassed huge quantities of WMDs and posing an immediate threat to the US national interests.

Occupation of Iraq, disbanding of the Baath party and the Iraqi army, destruction of Saddam's secular state machinery and its replacement by a predominantly Shiite regime, among others, acted as exacerbating factors.

Deep angst, seething anger and palpitating hatred manifested in widespread Sunni discontent against the US and the West; it prompted hundreds to embrace al-Qaeda in Iraq. Disbanded soldiers and officers of Saddam's army parted with weapons and joined the ranks of the opponents of the US occupation.

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US President Barack Obama. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Iraqi prisons became the recruiting and training grounds of fighters. Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who ran paramilitary camps in Afghanistan, arrived in Iraq and sensing American invasion started setting up sleeper cells in 2002.

Vehemently opposed to American occupation, he carried out daring attacks against American forces and Shiite leaders. Despite differences, Osama bin Laden gave him the title of Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

It was Zarqawi who first spoke of establishing the Caliphate and widened Sunni-Shia schism through his brutal killings. The US government had announced a reward of $25 million for information leading to his capture.

On June 7, 2006, the US forces killed him by bombing the house where he was conducting a meeting. His successors rebranded al-Qaeda Iraq as the ISIS.

After Nouri al-Maliki's re-election in 2010, the ISIS brutally killed hundreds of tribal leaders; these were royally ignored by the US administration.

Only the capture of Mosul in 2014, followed by the fall of ten other towns in quick succession, made the world sit up and take note of the ISIS.

It used Iraqi prisons as recruiting camps; Abu Bakr Baghdadi was one of the prisoners freed from Abu Ghraib in a prison attack; he later succeeded Zarqawi and fulfilled his dream of establishing a Caliphate in June 2014.

With each successful attack, the ISIS ranks swelled. Witnessing the chaos in the border towns of Syria following (Syrian president) Assad's attacks against his own people, the ISIS stepped in and captured sizeable Syrian territory.

With eight-nine million populations, the territory under the ISIS from Diyala in Iraq to Aleppo in Syria is of the size of the UK. It raises $2 billion annually from extortions, sale of oil, taxes, loot of government properties and has an army of 30,000 fighters.

Muslim victimhood, American invasion of Iraq and NATO's intervention in Libya filled the Muslim youth with urge to take revenge against the Western powers. Suddenly, Iraq, Libya and Syria - which never had al-Qaeda, the ISIS and other terrorist groups - became their breeding grounds.

Internet

The ISIS has mastered internet technology and used it extensively to recruit impressionable youth from across the world.

Arab specialist Talmiz Ahmad feels that they find a sense of purpose in the ISIS websites which create for them a welcoming virtual community, channelising their anger into an assault on the enemies of their faith, and imparting them a sense of fulfilling a higher destiny.

Syria has become a theatre of a proxy war being fought by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar on one side (supported by the US and the West wanting to oust Assad) and Iran, Russia and China trying to bolster him.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has played a duplicitous role: it has bombed PKK which has fought the ISIS effectively and allegedly bought oil from the ISIS.

Setback

Though the ISIS has recently suffered some setbacks largely from Russian bombings in Syria, it remains a global menace. So, as Modi said, it must be combated globally in a well-coordinated manner.

Let the world treat it as enemy No 1. If Saudi Arabia and Iran come on the same page and the US and Russia get over their mistrust and attack the ISIS centres jointly, they can degrade it irreparably. Turkey must not get away with its duplicitous role.

The West must counter the ISIS internet propaganda with persuasive narrative stressing how retrograde is the idea of a Caliphate and how un-Islamic are the acts of violence against innocent people. It must not hesitate admitting past mistakes and should promise a course correction.

Despotic rulers in the Arab world must introduce democracy in a phased manner for their own sake. A lasting solution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict will help immensely.

Time for empty words is over. Only concrete results on the ground will carry conviction. A strategy to defeat the ISIS will require unflinching political will, honesty, trust, focus and close coordination and execution of military missions.

Also, patient, sensitive, imaginative and persistent endeavours are a must to reclaim the hearts and minds of Muslim youth.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: September 20, 2016 | 09:05
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