The so-called Islamic State has triggered deep anxieties across the world with its successful campaigns against national armies in the Middle East, terrorist attacks in Europe, the institutionalisation of slavery, the targeting of minorities and the destr
The unprecedented threat of IS rests on a highly successful recruitment campaign. Militant groups throughout Asia have pledged allegiance and youths in the thousands across the globe have joined. It is also the world’s wealthiest terrorist organisation, with an estimated annual budget of $400 million to $500 million from oil and tax revenue and ransoms.
IS has its origins in the Syrian crisis, which began in 2011 when President Assad’s crackdown on dissent triggered a civil war that has since cost more than 250,000 lives and US$290 billion. More than six million people have fled the country.
Despite all this, and knowing the typical fate of dictators, Assad has given no sign he intends to relinquish power. Emboldened by recent successes after Russian intervention, he has declared his intention to reclaim all of Syria.
The US administration has remained cautious and accepted Russia’s lead at the Geneva conference. However, there is little chance of settlement since the talks are focused on future political arrangements and an interim governing body that Assad deems “illogical and unconstitutional”.
Neither the Kurds (owing to Turkish resistance), nor IS and the Nusra Front have been invited. Saudi Arabia has declared that no peace can ensue unless Assad steps down. Thus we have a stalemate.
Assad and Russia might see the so-called ceasefire agreement as an opportunity to advance against IS, but such a venture would cause further regional destabilisation. And if Turkish or Saudi troops entered Syria there would be risk of another world war.
One thing is certain – if IS is not eliminated, it will spread to our region. Here, in toxic combination with the Taleban and al-Qaeda, it will impose its ideology on us.
(From Dawn newspaper)