After chasing the Islamic State out of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown just about a 100 miles from Baghdad, ISIL was supposed to be on its way out. The Iraqi forces had held their own as their Prime Minister famously claimed of having won the “psychological battle” against the jihadist group. But if events over the past few week have indicated something, it’s that the Islamic State is no ordinary foe. For its sheer, brutal efficiency and an unnerving desire for the creation of the Caliphate, it is scarier and more strategically organised than any terrorist group that has ever come before it. It has been recruiting people from all over the world; and the lightening quick speed with which it has established its stronghold over the ever-expanding region of Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq goes on to show that the problem in the Middle-East is here to stay.
Merely weeks after losing Tikrit, the Islamic State has been able to take over Ramadi, capital of the Anbar region of upper Iraq. This comes as a massive victory for the group as they now effectively control both the Tigris and Euphrates, and also the roads that link Central Iraq with Central Syria. Control of water is critical in deciding the fate of this war, and ISIL now holds a major strategic edge as it can stall everyday life in Iraq basically at any time it wishes to do so. In more recent news, just a couple of days ago, ISIL seized the Syrian city of Palmyra with apparent ease. Though not as strategically important as Ramadi, Palmyra is a World Heritage Site and was an important cultural centre of the ancient world. Sadly, it is bound to suffer the same fate as those suffered by the ancient cities of Aleppo and Nineveh. The attacks on these ancient sites are motivated by the group’s hostility to non-Islamic and pre-Islamic cultures. Also, the proceeds from the selling of the looted artifacts on the black market helps the Islamic State fund its campaigns across Syria and Iraq. Making matters worse, trade among these Middle-Eastern countries has dwindled as violence has mounted; posing a fundamental dilemma for policymakers as commerce is the foundation on which peaceful relations could have been re-established.
So, how do you stop these people? Unfortunately, the more important questions that need to be answered are prior ones. How is it that just as the US Army leaves Iraq, a militant Islamic group from Syria is able to swoop-in and takeover a large chunk of the country? How is it that people from all over the world are voluntarily leaving their homes and joining the ranks of the Islamic State? Have we (and by “we”, I mean the United States) ever really wanted to stop them? These are some of the questions that need to be answered RIGHT NOW.
On May 18, Judicial Watch published a selection of formerly classified documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense that all but established that the United States, as early as August 2012, knew about the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq/ Levant. However, instead of clearly delineating it as a threat, ISIS was envisioned as an asset which would help destabilize Assad’s regime in Syria. But, weren’t Taliban and Al-Qaeda also creations of the United States? What makes the threats posed by ISIS any bit more dangerous than those posed by them in the past? Well…the answer to that lies in the teachings of Wahhabism and ISIS’s ultimate aim of taking over Mecca. Over the last few years, there has been ceaseless debate over whether the Islamic world poses a threat to the ideological West. Political commentator and TV Host Bill Maher caused a great deal of controversy when he on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, claimed that the fundamental ideologies of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS were shared by the rest of the Muslim world. Though Maher can be a xenophobic idiot on occasions (including this one), his facile generalization of the Muslim world is precisely what the Islamic State wants to achieve. Yaroslav Trofimov in his book, The Siege of Mecca, accounts how, when in 1979 a bunch of Wahhabis took over Mecca during Haj, the royal family couldn’t go and get them as it was illegal to carry any sort of weapons inside Mecca. So, they had to go to the clerics and ask for a special Fatwa so they could fight the Wahhabis and get them out of Mecca. But the clerics placed a condition that the Fatwa would only be granted if the royal family would give them money to set-up mosques around the world where Wahhabi teachings (which is basically fundamentalist in nature) would be taught. This is where we answer the ISIS question – ‘How the fuck can these guys recruit 50,000 foreign fighters in four fucking months? It doesn’t make any sense.’ As long as Mecca keeps on funding these Wahhabist Sunni teachings, people from all around the world (who are being taught these fundamentalist doctrines) will continue to rise and fight for ISIS. If Mecca keeps on saying that Wahhabism is good, it won’t be long before Wahabbism would become the dominant Muslim thought, in the process turning Maher’s idiotic claims into reality.
Now, just imagine if these people get their hands on a Nuke.
Ha! “The Islamic State has claimed that it is “infinitely” closer to buying a nuclear bomb from Pakistan.”