The campaign started by the coalition forces against ISIL is continuing intensively. However the desired results cannot be attained from these air strikes. Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said that the threat posed by the ISIL will not be eliminated “within days or months” and that the extremist group is good at adapting to changes. “It’s going to take a serious effort by all involved. We do believe that we’re talking about years here,” he said. These words are an embodiment of the doubts regarding the extent to which these military operations are expected to work.
The ideology of ISIL
President Obama’s confession in an interview aired on the ’60 Minutes’ program on CBS television is very important. He said, “The U.S underestimated the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.” What the US underestimated was actually the impact of the ideology of ISIL in expanding the organization.
In the same program Obama also said, “Islam is a religion that preaches peace and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful. But in the Muslim world right now, there is a cancer that has grown for too long that suggests that it is acceptable to kill innocent people who worship a different God.” The most important point to be emphasized here is the existence of a power structure with faulty ideas. That means that one of the most important elements in preventing this is to enlighten the whole world and to raise awareness against these faulty ideas.
As a matter of fact, Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly in September was a good confirmation of this fact; “It is time for the world — especially Muslim communities — to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like al Qaeda and ISIL. It’s time to end the hypocrisy of those who accumulate wealth through the global economy and then siphon funds to those who teach children to tear it down.”
Indeed a problem, which has snowballed like no one ever expected has arisen, one that could not be solved merely with military measures. New recruits to ISIL are coming even from the countries supporting the coalition every single day. From the Philippines to the UK, from France to Pakistan, from Japan to the USA, people from all around the world are adopting the philosophy of ISIL, moreover are personally joining their ranks.
The Soufan Group, the Strategic Research Center based in New York, states that more than 15,000 foreign militants from at least 81 countries have entered Iraq and Syria in three years. The report, titled “Foreign Fighters in Syria” and prepared by Richard Barrett notes; “Over 12,000 foreign fighters have gone to Syria since the three-year conflict began, more than traveled to Afghanistan during its ten-year war and violent aftermath. And they continue to arrive.”
The coalition doesn’t prevent new recruits going to join ISIL
There is an immense and intensive effort in social media to gather new recruits for the organization. Professor Anthony Glees, the Director of The University of Buckingham Center for Security and Intelligence Studies who researched this ideological activity expressed this in the following words; “Extremist groups are deliberately misleading British youths by preaching false religious doctrines and promising a better life. None of these young people are poor, needy or followers of discriminating ideologies. Most of the British youths who fight alongside the Islamic State extremist group are well educated and qualified. And they consider jihad as an interim activity. This is something surprising as it is generally believed that a good education can keep people away from terrorism.”
The fact that The Sun Daily reported about Sally Jones’ (45)- a rock music singer and mother of two- leaving the UK to join ISIL shows that this is not something that can be brought to an end with bombings.
The most important part of the matter comes into play at this stage and that is the necessity of conducting a massive educational campaign that will prevent new recruits to the organization.
Operations carried out have a negative impact
Gilles De Kerchove, Counter-terrorism Coordinator of the EU, says that the primary power of ISIL consists of some 31,000 militants. In point of fact, the number of those who embrace ISIL among the great masses who’ve been persecuted by occupations, wars and various dictators is far higher. These people find the organization close to themselves and prefer living with them; as a matter of fact, no other alternative has ever been presented to these people who’ve suffered a great deal in Iraq and Syria. However, no one should doubt that the environment would have changed with breathtaking speed if the people of the region were made to feel that they would be embraced lovingly. That is because love always defeats hatred.
On the other hand, the concept of armed intervention harbors many contradictions within itself, so much so, that the main goal of such an intervention is to stop an organization who inflicts violence upon innocent people and to protect the rights of civilians- primarily their right to live. However in air strikes on suspected hostile targets, scores of civilians invariably lose their lives. Every city that is bombed, every innocent person that dies, merely increases the hatred and the rage of the people in the region. Former CIA Officer Michael Scheuer, who served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station, voices this mistake of the USA as follows; “U.S. military intervention in any Muslim country means more donations, recruits, and popular support for IS, al-Qaeda, and other like-minded organizations.”
Indeed, what happened in Afghanistan and in the US intervention in Iraq are two very clear proofs of this fact: Armed interventions cause great losses of life and property and can only be realized with very high costs and what’s more, achieving stability through armed interventions has never been possible in the engagement areas such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. When we look back in history, we also are confronted with the fact that the USA dropped eight million tons of bombs in Vietnam yet still lost that war.
Intellectual struggle against the ideology of ISIL
“Replacing opinions that create violence with the right opinions” instead of falling into the delusion of “preventing violence with violence” would – before all else – prevent new recruits joining the organization. Any organization that loses its philosophical underpinnings is bound to come to an end. For that reason, pointing out and carefully critiquing the superstitions and resources other than the Qur’an that have been embraced by ISIL (assuming that they represent Islam) and explaining the truth of the Qur’an to make these wrongs right, is a crucial effort that will yield far better results in the long term.
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