Without much debate in the public domain, and any real chance for people to think about repercussions, the West is now once again intervening in the Middle East, writes Haseeb Rizvi. In reality, Western intervention against ISIS is counter-productive and may strengthen and unite the militant jihadist ideology and spirit.
As Western nations and allies come forward to join the US-led coalition, with the objective of “destroying” ISIS, we must think back to previous wars in modern history which started with similar ambitions; the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda across the Middle East. Neither of the aforementioned objectives have been completed, and if anything they have only been strengthened or more difficult to fight against.
Since the dawn of the “war on terror” the world has been duped into a cause which on the surface sounds perfectly reasonable and valid to stand by, whereas in reality the so called war on terror has only heightened terrorism in the Middle East and neighbouring regions – the sad irony being that the victim of both terrorism and the subsequent Western intervention have been civilians, and mostly Muslim civilians. So, what are the likely scenarios following the West’s strikes against ISIS and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria?
1. ISIS and other militants could simply disperse amongst civilians.
Yes, militant groups will be heavily affected and weakened by airstrikes against their positions and stronghold – but will it defeat them? Well if history is anything to go by, most likely not. The Taliban still exist in Afghanistan and are still killing civilians, police and armed forces. Not only do they still exist, but as a result of the Western invasion of Afghanistan they found new safe havens amongst civilian populations, making the task of defeating them even more complicated. Not only that, but Western intervention directly triggered the Taliban’s move into areas of Pakistan to cause mayhem there (and the Pakistani Army are still engaging with them at this very moment in time).
Do Western leaders expect ISIS and other militants to simply be defeated and shake hands after taking a beating and say “well played” like good sportsmen? Of course not. These militants will simply merge back into villages, towns and cities and wreak havoc and massacre civilians – at which point the West will presumably clean their hands of the matter and leave it to the indigenous people of the land to mop up the mess they exacerbated.
Indeed, this is how ISIS, as we know it, actually began forming during the civil war in Iraq (with the emergence of Al Qaeda in Iraq under Zarqawi) and then developed more recently after the West’s and Arab states’ decision to arm, train and fund militants (or as they call them “moderate rebels”) in Syria and Libya – both of which served an ulterior motive.
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2. Western intervention against ISIS, legitimises them.
Ultimately, the extremist ideology that drives young men towards a path of violence, destruction and death cannot be destroyed by any number of bombs or bullets – bombs and bullets will only serve to legitimise them, harden them and radicalise a plethora of new recruits to “fight the occupiers.”
The main culprits behind the existence of the extremist ideology which underlines all jihadist militant faction groups, Saudi Arabia and the like, are still allies with the West. These same allies flamed the sectarian divide in the region in their bid to destroy Syria, a staunch opponent of Israel and a key ally of Iran. They are now scampering having realised the monster they have together created and the threat to posed to them, but some would argue that it’s simply too late.
Until now, ISIS and other militant groups have been busy killing Muslims and religious minorities which has been their biggest PR challenge with other so called “Muslim jihadists” who’ve accused them of not taking the fight against “the real enemy.” Not only that, but ISIS haven’t had the opportunity to flex their barbaric muscles against a sophisticated army, and their determination to take on the West will only earn them more stripes in the league of jihadis.
This is one of the key flaws with the Western strategy; neglecting the fact that by fighting ISIS, they will be giving them a further burst of oxygen by giving them a rallying point for new recruits. “Let’s unite to fight against the occupiers,” the militants’ banner will read.
3. ISIS and other militant groups may unite to fight their “greater enemy.”
Despite the fact that ISIS have been at war with other so-called jihadists in Syria and in Iraq, there have been brief moments of reconciliation between rival factions and other groups have surrendered their allegiance to the pseudo-caliphate announced by ISIS. A full unification of jihadist militants in Iraq, Syria and other nearby regions will have unprecedented repercussions, in which the biggest victim will once again be the indigenous civilians of the region.
But none of this matters to the West, they will simply protect their interests (Israel, oil and all their puppet leaders in the region) and at the same time they will continue to fund, arm and train “moderate rebels.” These rebels will be expected to only fight against ISIS whereas in reality, there are no moderate rebels, only militants with their own twisted and dark ideology to perpetuate the cycle of violence and destruction under the false notion of “establishing God’s law.”
Much like the West’s motto to fight for freedom and democracy.
The West are once again drawing lines in the sand and pushing forward their objectives born from self-interest, and this is most notable with their support for Kurdish militias, militants in Syria and an undying alliance with the same dictators and puppets, who laid down the foundation for the existence of terrorist groups across the entire region.
All the while, the West continues to operate against those who have actively been defending against and fighting off dozens of terrorist groups for the past few years; Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and more recently the Shia resistance forces in Iraq.
ISIS have provided the West with legitimacy to take action, and in return the West is giving ISIS legitimacy to carry on their fight.