IS Global Threat Requires Forceful International Response
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 20, 2014
Summary: The failure to resolve standoffs, historical grievances, and the
peristence of extreme hostility, created a hotbed of radicalism. IS is a
reminder to the world. Narrow-minded confrontation and persistent
hatred will not solve problems. They will only bring on greater
disaster. We must persevere in our reconciliation efforts. We must
reduce conflicts and eliminate resentments. Opposition to terrorist
organizations such as IS requires perseverance and willpower. It
requires greater attention from the international community. Middle
Eastern historical grievances offer East Asian nations a lesson they can
Full Text Below:
The US has escalated its attacks against Islamic State (IS) rebels in northern Iraq. In addition to launching air strikes and supplying weapons to the Kurds, the CIA has dispatched spec ops groups to hunt down IS leaders. The brutality of this heinous terrorist organization has jeopardized collective security and humanitarian values. The international community must join hands against it. This, one fears, will be a long battle.
In recent years, terrorist organizations have become an increasing threat to global security and order. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States exterminated the Al Qaeda organization, waged war against Iraq, toppled Saddam Hussein, and assassinated Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda began to decline.
But who knew an even more terrible terrorist organization would appear? Saddam Hussein's authoritarian rule effectively suppressed sectarian disputes. But with Hussein's fall from power, successive Iraqi governments were unable to suppress Shia vs. Sunni conflict. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki failed to consider the differences between various factions. He even attacked the majority Sunni faction, provoking intense antagonism. As a result, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an offshoot of Al Qaeda, grew rapidly.
ISIL is even more frightening than Al Qaeda. The enemy of Al Qaeda is Europe and America. ISIL, a Sunni Islam organization, regards all non-Sunnis as the enemy. The organization was founded in April 2013. Its goal is to establish a theocracy in Iraq and the Levant. It currently controls large parts of northeastern Syria and large parts of northern and western Iraq. It is among the rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
ISIL has been the recipient of secret assistence from Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Sunni faction, and Qatar. It robbed local banks of large sums of money. It captured oil fields and sold crude oil on the black market. As a result, ISIL is financially quite flush. But its ideology is too extreme, and its methods ae too savage. When it captured the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, it massacred 1700 POWs and posted photos of the executions online. It also kidnapped women as sex slaves, brainwashed children and turned them into terrorists. Even Al Qaeda could not stomach these atrocities, and announced that it was severing relations with ISIL.
In June 2014 ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself "Caliph." He announced the establishment of the Islamic State (IS), and proclaimed himself the highest authority in the entire Muslim world. Recently the organization went even further. It attacked the minority Yezidis in Northern Iraq. It forced them to renounce their beliefs or be executed. It abducted 1500 women as sex slaves, saying it was purifying their blood. These besieged people are on the verge of starvation and death. Refugees have been displaced, resulting in the loss of life and a humanitarian tragedy. The world could no longer bear watching the Yezidi tragedy. It was the last straw. Eventually the United States and the international community decided they could no longer sit back and do nothing. U.S. President Barack Obama announced air strikes on a northern Iraq IS stronghold. He provided weapons to the Kurds to help them fight the IS rebels. France and Australia also pledged military aid. In a full force counterattack, Iraq recaptured the Mosul reservoir, enabling people to survive.
For Obama, the decision to act was a painful one. The United States has been mired in Iraq and Afghanistan for 10 years. It is already worn out. So are the people. Obama is now forced to return to the battlefield in Iraq. He is truly reluctant. So far he has limited his attacks to unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopter bombing, and weapons supplies. But according to media reports, elite teams of CIA agents and Special Forces have been ordered to hunt down IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Obviously for the United States, the IS organization is a national security threat, one serious enough that it must be wiped out as soon as possible.
Hillary Clinton has criticized Obama for passivity on the political situation in Iraq, and for enabling the IS organization to rise and expand. But in fact, Shiite minority rule under Hussein's authoritarian rule planted the seeds of hatred between the two sects. Improper governance by his successor failed to defuse the sectarian rift. Nouri al-Maliki's personal style and wrangling with local leaders was also a factor. Now Nouri al-Maliki has been driven back. Haider Al-Abadi has formed a cabinet. If he can make a fresh start and reduce sectarian tensions, he can reduce popular support for the IS organization. Add to this continued military attacks, and they should be able to effectively suppress the IS forces.
The failure to resolve standoffs, historical grievances, and the peristence of extreme hostility, created a hotbed of radicalism. IS is a reminder to the world. Narrow-minded confrontation and persistent hatred will not solve problems. They will only bring on greater disaster. We must persevere in our reconciliation efforts. We must reduce conflicts and eliminate resentments. Opposition to terrorist organizations such as IS requires perseverance and willpower. It requires greater attention from the international community. Middle Eastern historical grievances offer East Asian nations a lesson they can learn from.