Table of Contents
The Origin and Goals of ISIS
ISIS is geographically active in a number of countries including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, and Libya. Before and during America’s invasion in Iraq, there seemed to be no presence of ISIS. The terror group became largely active in the new political arena that was created in Iraq after the United States’ led incursion (Weiss, & Hassan, 2015: p.63). This maneuver resulted in the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, the destruction of the Iraqi army, and the degradation of the existing governmental institutions. Consequently, a governmental and security vacuum was created while the nation’s fragile society that was characterized by constant conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was damaged severely (Clegg, 2009: p.13).
For nearly nine years from 2003 to 2011 that the U.S. Army had occupied Iraq, the country failed to put in place a well-established Iraqi government, army, and security forces. This was especially important in filling the gaps created after the troops left the region (Stern, & Berger, 2015: p.98). While the American soldiers were still deployed in Iraq, the United States had attempted to oversee the establishment of a democratic Shiite regime led by Nouri al-Maliki. However, this government was selectively democratic and started alienating the Sunni population. Although being a minority, the Sunni population had traditionally dominated the country.
The lack of security provided Al-Qaeda with the opportunity to establish itself in the region, and the terror group capitalized on the heightening societal-political Sunni alienation. The branch of Al-Qaeda in Iraq played a significant role in fueling insurgent organizations fighting against American forces. This part of the Al-Qaeda became even stronger with the withdrawal of the American troops from Iraq in the year of 2001. The group advanced further to Syria during the Syrian civil war in 2011 (Hall, 2015: p.13).
The ambition of ISIS is to form a worldwide caliphate by means of initializing a global war. Therefore, the terror group is focused on “remaining and expanding” its foothold across the major territories in Syria and Iraq (Greenfield, 2015: 1). Its target is to replace the existing geographical borders to suppress what it deems to be the Shiite “crescent” that has recently dominated the Middle East, to take Islam’s war to America and Europe, and eventually, guide Muslims to pursue an apocalyptic war against disbelievers they call “kafiris”.
In the context of war on terror, the militant group stands as a modern threat that has emerged over the recent years. These terrorists have been mostly operating in the territory of Iraq and the surrounding regions. The term ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The group has gained global attention and prominence owing to its televised executions releasing bloody images together with videos capturing the decapitation and executions of human beings to the public (Thompson & Shubert, 2015: p.1). These broadcastings have had the effect of gripping the world in terror and holding everyone in fear. One of the interesting aspects of the terror group is that in contrast to traditional Islamic based terror organizations that were characterized mainly by the presence of people of Arabian origin, ISIS has been able to attract global attention across the world and encourages some people from the west to join the group. There have been known Americans and Europeans who left cozy and peaceful houses in their home countries and became a part of ISIS. Although there have been significant efforts to deal with the terror group, it seems that these efforts are yet to bear fruit as the group’s dominance is still strong in the Middle East. Moreover, with its continuous growth as well as global prominence, it is critical that an effective solution to battle the terror is thoroughly identified and implemented.
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ISIS has a well planned out and detailed structure that entails numerous jurisdictions and functions. Most of ISIS leaders are previous officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army who consolidated their military training with terrorist strategies gained during years of fighting against American troops (Thompson & Shubert, 2015: p.1). ISIS is run by the Commander in Chief named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The latter has a cabinet of advisors and two deputies namely Abu Muslim al-Turkmani leading the Iraqi branch and Abu Ali al-Anbari in charge of the Syrian one. The Shura Council is responsible for militarian and religious affairs. Under the deputies, there are twelve governors of Iraq and twelve of Syria who form the Financial Council that is in charge of weapons and oil sales, Leadership Council responsible for drafting critical policies and laws, the Military Council managing defense of the Islamic State, the Legal Council makes decisions on recruitment and executions. Additionally, The Fighters Assistance Council is in charge of foreign fighter aid, the Security Council deals with “policing” and executions, the Intelligence Council shares information on ISIS enemies, whereas the Media Council controls social media and other media.
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One of the proposed ways of dealing with the issue of ISIS is to ensure that a stable government is put in place. However, this is a long-term solution that requires other immediate measures and undertakings in place for it to be fully achieved. First, in order to establish a democratic government, it is paramount to ensure the security and safety of the citizens. This is could be achieved through the deployment of troops throughout the region to claim back towns, cities, and areas controlled by the terrorists. However, the troops being deployed should serve in the capacity of a peacekeeping mission (Hall, 2015: p.76). Moreover, the campaign should be organized and supervised by the United Nations and not the United States of America. In this way, the entire set of efforts should be forged as the global war on terror and not the United States against factions in Middle Easter.
Assuming that this measure is successful, the next phase should work towards the establishment of a democratic sovereign government which is the most plausible as it is summarised as the “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. This would show that the United Nations along with the global community are not interested in managing the affairs of the Iraqi people but value the sovereignty of the local communities and aims to ensure that their sovereignty, peace, and stability are safeguarded (Clegg, 2009: p.117). After fighting the conflicts and violence throughout or in most parts of the region, it is possible to hold elections where the Iraqi people will choose their own leaders. This is a basic right that the Iraqis have never practiced for decades since the country’s last president, Saddam Hussein, was a dictator and did not allow any form of democracy in the country. This is a fact that is bound to be supported by all Iraqis save for the few warlords who want to rule over the entire land by themselves using any necessary means.
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It is, however, important to note that the global community should take the stand like the United States of America as far as dealing with terrorists is a concern The U.S. has a strict policy that states that the government or any other agency does not and will not negotiate with terrorists. This is meaningful to note in the background of some of the proposals by analysts that diplomacy should be adopted in dealing with the ISIS crisis. Negotiations, in this respect, would imply holding a meeting with ISIS representatives and, in some way, bargaining in forging a way forward for the nation of Iraq and the surrounding regions. Such a recommendation is not plausible and will only serve to strengthen the movement. Therefore, it is important to consider ISIS for what it is: a terrorist group and should, thus, be handled as such.
Furthermore, bombing alone cannot serve the end of dealing with ISIS. It should be a concerted effort that involves first ensuring peace and stability in the region possible through the use of United Nations’ peacekeepers. This should then be followed by the establishment of a democratic regime that protects the rights and interests of all Iraqis; both the majority and the minority. In tandem, an effective Iraqi army and security forces should be established. Finally, the global community should strive to reconstruct the Iraqi economy first (Weiss & Hassan, 2015: p.89).
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During this period of peace, the global community should help revive the Iraqi economy by concentrating on education, infrastructure, social amenities, and industries. Education is of prime importance as this acts as support for the future generations. The United Nations should also ensure that a judicial system is put in place and the proper institutions should be used to accord justice to the conflict perpetrators. It is important that the Iraqi people decide on the fate of the arrested ISIS insurgents; the United Nations should not interfere with the Iraqi judicial process. Moreover, the global community should train the new Iraqi administrators and include such lessons in the school curriculum if possible.
One of the factors that can be attributed to this failure is probably because the United States was acting alone, and therefore, did not have the capacity of dealing with the issue at hand (Hall, 2015: p.53). Additionally, the United States’ resources were probably overstretched owing to the fact that the nation’s troops were also in Afghanistan and that its economy was still coping with the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The ISIS issue is not America’s problem to handle but the real threat for the whole world community. Terror is a global issue that requires the concerted efforts of the global society. There are many cases that highlight this issue. One case is the recent terrorist attack at a public University in Kenya where one of the attackers, a Kenyan citizen, had earlier attempted to migrate to Iran with the aim of joining ISIS. However, he faced issues with his passport, and therefore, chose to join the Somali based militant group Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group allied to Al-Qaeda. This goes to show that the influence of ISIS is spreading globally and attracting sympathizers in many parts of the world. This is why it is the global community’s duty to contribute in dealing with not only ISIS but also the founding agent, Al-Qaeda.