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Wed. February 01, 2023
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International Affairs Forum

Around the World, Across the Political Spectrum

Going to War Against ISIS


By Dr. Sohail Mahmood

Going to war against IS (also known as the ISIL, ISIS, and also by the Arabic acronym Daesh) isn’t the only solution. Neither is it the most pragmatic one. Did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stop radicalism? After 14 long years, spending more than a trillion dollars and nearly seven thousand dead American soldiers we have now the resurrection of Al Qaeda into the IS. There are many other causes of the birth of the new terrorist entity, primarily political not religious. US support of the Shia government in Iraq alienated the Sunnis who had ruled for centuries. Also, the continued rule of an Alawiite regime in neighboring Syria and the raging civil war created the space for the IS to emerge, Initially, it was supported by the Saudis, Qataris, and other Gulf sheikhdoms because of its rabidly anti-Shiite stance. The IS was stringently opposed to the Shia sect which it considers as being outside Islam. Therefore, a cautious approach is needed now. Don’t overreact. Remember, IS is much more than just a religious cause. It attracts the alienated, frustrated, simple-minded, ignorant, socially immobile, and angry people. A redress of their grievances is also required.

The Obama Administration should follow a comprehensive strategy in which the military option is not the only one on the table. A careful redrawing of the map in the Middle East is in order. For example, it is time for the establishment of an independent sovereign Palestine and even a Kurdistan republic. A pragmatic approach would require alliance building across the region and even beyond. Intense negotiations with key players in the region will lead to such changes. Another issue that needs to be resolved is that of Kashmir. Without peace in South Asia, the greater Middle East cannot be secured. A stable, secure and peaceful Pakistan and Afghanistan is a key for regional security. Much needs to be done to stabilize the region.

Instead of going to war against the IS, it would be better to start building the foundations of peace in the region where dysfunctional states are the norm and not the exception. Bad governance has alienated the people against their own rulers. This state of affairs is the reason why IS exists.

In a nutshell, a pragmatic and political approach needs to be the focus now. A knee-jerk reaction to the recent California killings is unwarranted at best. A criticism of Islam is also undesirable. A simplistic anger at Islam will only make the IS stronger. At best, it is a reaction to the California terrorist incident. The Obama Administration is wise to take a cautious approach now. Also, the heinous act of terrorism in California must be strongly condemned by the global Muslim community without any reservations.

Dr. Sohail Mahmood is a faculty member at Oxford Higher Academy, UK and Professor & Board Member, Department of Political Science, Faculty UniVirtuelle, MethodologicaUniversitas.



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