How to Handle ISIS
How to Handle ISIS
The United States of America continues to face multiple security threats, with a rise of extremists’ attacks in recent years. One of these security threats is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist group allied to Al-Qaeda. ISIS is executing simultaneous efforts to destabilize the economy and peace in Syria, Iraq, Middle East, Africa, and the wider world. Through the use of sophisticated global strategies, the group has mounted attacks in various parts of the world, resulting in human deaths and destruction of properties.
The growth of the terrorist group has attracted the attention of world leaders in the wake of mounting pressure on global leaders to take action. The President of the United States has been on the lead in the fight, by devising ways of combating the extremist group. Among the strategies implemented by the US are military interventions through airstrikes, providing intelligence, equipment and training to the Iraq army. Also, the United States has helped set up a National Guard Unit (Patel 3). The military solutions have not been very successful in limiting the militant’s activities in Iraq, with opponents criticizing President Obama for deploying naval warfare rather than using non-military interventions.
The United States, in conjunction with its partners, are combating ISIS through partnering with local forces as well as formulating new policies that guide its activities in the region. Despite these efforts, the militants retain their grounds in Syria and Iraq and have continued to capture new cities. ISIS affiliates are also gaining ground, conducting massive recruitments and acquiring sophisticated weaponry and communication equipment. As at November 2014, ISIS strategy was to ‘remain and expand’ by establishing training camps in new regions and launching more attacks in and outside their backyards (Eisenstadt 11). Obama’s objectives in dealing with ISIS are to overcome ISIS through defeating its military capabilities which using other non-military strategies to diminish the militant’s ability to recruit, finance or promote its welfare.
- Threats Posed by ISIS
ISIS is no longer a small terror group, but a group like acts like an army. The army is conquering lands in Syria and Iraq to establish new ideologies that follow the teachings of Al-Qaeda. It is imperative to understand the threats posed by the group to analyze the solutions to the problem of ISIS. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a militant of the Sunni Salafi group. The presence of ISIS in the Middle East threatens the interests of the US and most of the world countries who depend on oil and gas from the region. The disruptions in the flow of oil and its supply will destabilize the global economy. The group already controls tons of oil deposits throughout Syria and Iraq, which are estimated at 25, 000 to 40,000 barrels a day (Kelly 32). Therefore, the United States must take actions to safeguard the economy of Iraq and other Middle East countries rather than destroy it.
Furthermore, the United States government has a role in protecting its national citizens around the globe. The beheading of American journalists by ISIS and the ISIS threat to the US attracted the attention of the US government. However, intelligence rules out any threats by ISIS to the American soil as at 2014, although there are reasons to believe that if not dealt with, it will pose such threats in the future. There are non-Arab fighters from the United States, who have joined the group, and they could return home and cause more damage if not dealt with at an early stage. Central Intelligence Agency argues that there are 15, 000 foreign fighters, with some of them originating from the United States, France, Britain, and Germany (Gorka and Gorka 8). Since the 9/11 attack on the American soil, the administration has vowed to go after the terrorists on their soil to neutralize their actions. ISIS uses social media to recruit new fighters from the Middle East and other parts of the world. They use videos to publicize its military victories as a way of attracting new foreign fighters.
An estimated three percent of the Muslims support Salafism, with a sizeable population of these supporting the ideologies of ISIS. If the militant group continues to gain victories in Syria and Iraq, then it will attract the Salafi Muslims to join the radical group. Most of the Salafi Muslims believe that they have an obligation to support ISIS after the 29th June announcing by Al-Baghdadi declaring himself “Caliph” over the Islamic Caliphate. The allegiance to Baghdadi is likely to attract new Muslim fighters from Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Sunni Muslim country (Eisenstadt 10). The Boko-Haram militants in Nigeria are an example of Muslim militants associating with ISIS and have caused havoc in the West Africa country. The growth of violent Salafism throughout the world could energize and empower radical jihadists, therefore jeopardizing the American homeland security.
- Military Solutions to ISIS
After the recent Paris attacks, countries involved in fighting ISIS are considering strengthening their military strategies against ISIS in Syria. France and the US have intensified aerial strikes and the bombing of key areas held by the militants while other countries are still considering whether or not to launch military interventions against ISIS. Among the US army strategies against ISIS are intensified Airstrikes, assisting in establishing a National Guard Unit and providing Iraqi security forces with training, intelligence, and equipment.
The United States intensified airstrikes after ISIS threatened to execute the Yazidis, a Christian minority group in Iraq. The Obama administration ordered airstrikes to prevent the massacre of the Yazidis and to protect American personnel based in Erbil. In collaboration with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the American troops had conducted 1,006 airstrikes as at November 2014. The airstrikes have hit 2300 ISIS strongholds including 700 ISIS buildings, 380 fighting camps, 260 vehicles and 180 oil refineries operated by ISIS in Syria (Kelly 28) With the help of these airstrikes; the Iraqi forces captured the towns of Gweyr and Mahmour that were under the control of ISIS. Also, the Iraqi army also captured the Haditha dam from the militants that they had taken control off after fierce ground and air fighting.
The US airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS have been an important step in combating the militants and aiding the local forces to advance their territories. Also, the airstrikes have been effective solutions of responding to threats against US citizens and preventing possible acts of genocide of a Christian minority group. The airstrikes have enabled Iraqi army to resist the militant and bought time for the Iraqi government to build an inclusive government under Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi (Kelly 15). However, the use of military should only be one strategy, and more focus should be given to other non-military solutions. Political interventions and other non-military interventions are likely to have better results as compared to the military interventions alone. The military action in Iraq has been in existed for more than a decade, and they are yet to achieve the intended purposes. ISIS is not the cause but rather an effect of conflict on the regime of Sadam Hussein, who was ousted by the American army.
The ISIS problem requires concentrated effort from all partners. A successful strategy should be founded on regional cooperation coordinated by the US partners. The strategy should be multidimensional, involving security support, intelligence, public diplomacy and political engagement (Gorka and Gorka 19). Apart from military warfare, the US and its coalition partners should incorporate political solutions as a way of finding a solution to the problem of ISIS. Political interventions will reduce the non-combatants casualties and provide a solution to the humanitarian crisis existing in Syria and Iraq.
The aftermath of intensified airstrikes has resulted in the killing of civilians resulting humanitarian crisis. Despite claims by a US-led coalition that its airstrikes are the most precise and disciplined, there is evidence to show that hundreds of civilians have been in the war against Islamic State militants. In 57 of the incidents, there is public evidence to indicate that the coalition’s military actions are responsible for non-combatant and allied forces deaths. The events account for 459-591 deaths of civilian fatalities and 48-80 deaths of allied forces. The coalition has refuted such claims of casualties and accounting for two likely non-combatants deaths (Kelly 28). The efforts to limit the risk of civilians is hampered by the lack of transparency and accountability on the side of coalition members.
The killing of civilians has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that has led to a significant number of refugees running from their homes. According to the Obama administration, the intended reasons of deploying military was to safeguard lives with little or no casualties (Lewis 22). However, the actual occurrences on the ground portray a different scenario. Since 2011, thousands of Syrian refugees have been living in tents in the Hatay province, Turkey (Nance and Engel 72). The United Nations projects that an estimated 20, 000 Syrians have fled their country while approximately 70, 000 people have been categorized as Internally Displaced Persons (Weiss and Tanir 6). These figures could be higher as most of the human rights activists have gone into hiding. Already, European countries are struggling with the large numbers of refugees who have left to begin their lives afresh. Refugees lack access to essential services, and they endure harsh living conditions in tents. Women and children are affected by diseases which are common due to constraints in the distribution of resources.
Moreover, the US and its coalition partners do not have a plan of what will happen next once the fighting is over. The United Kingdom and the US have been using military action in the Middle East to sort out problems brought about by terror groups in the region, and it has not worked in many areas. The US Congress has not put a proper plan of what will happen once the bombing has stopped. It was a mistake for the US government to deploy military warfare in Syria and Iraq without having a clear exit plan.
Despite battling the militia for several years now, ISIS now controls larger parts of the country and is now stronger than when the US military intervened. The radical group has networks around the globe with a percentage of its members being foreign fighters. As at 2005, it was estimated that ISIS had 12, 000-15, 000 jihadists, with 120 foreign fighters joining the group monthly. Central Intelligence Agency projects that ISIS has 20, 000- 35, 000 members in Iraq and Syria. Also, it is estimated that the group has 12, 000 foreign fighters from 74 countries worldwide (Schmidt and Cooper). The group has more sophisticated weaponry that they have captured from the US and Iraqi forces. During its raids in Iraqi and Syria, ISIS seized millions of dollars worth of military equipment from Iraqi forces military installations. The weapons include tanks, armored vehicles and thousands of ammunitions supplied to Iraq and Syria.
The military action in Syria and Iraq has weakened the economy of both countries. The war against ISIS has made the lives of the people deplorable and worsened the economy. The bombing of oil refineries is one of the strategies to weaken ISIS. The Syrian and the larger Middle East economy are dependent on oil exports as a substantial part of its income. ISIS has already captured several oil refineries that they used to sell oil to the underground markets, making them the richest terror group in the world (Ricks 1). Bombing the countries oil deposits, not under the control of ISIS and the destruction of vital infrastructure has threatened to cripple their economies. The US and its coalition partners give financial and military assistance to the allied forces as a way of encouraging them to fight (Ackerman 1). However, there is the uncertainty about the future economy once the airstrikes are over since there has been massive destruction of the oil deposits as a way of crippling the actions of ISIS militants.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a threat to the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. If the terror group activities are not neutralized, then the ISIS threat is likely to spread to the United States homeland and other Western nations. Due to the threats posed by ISIS, the United States, and its coalition members must take action to fight ISIS and other terror groups. The United States recognizes that the best way to fight ISIS is by strengthening the Iraqi government through training, intelligence and giving them equipment.
However, the military actions of the army, including the aerial strikes using jets have had devastating effects on the country and its people. The air strikes have destroyed the country’s oil refineries and its infrastructure, therefore crippling its economy. The military action in Iraq and Syria has led to a humanitarian crisis, with many people running away for safety. The US and its coalition members should incorporate other non-military actions as a way of reducing the dire consequences of using military warfare in territories inhabited by the human population. The use of the army in Iraq has not had many achievements as expected. It is, therefore, necessary to strategize its Iraq approach by using political interventions and other non-military solutions.
Ackerman, Spencer. “US Military Interventions in Syria Would Create ‘Unintended Consequences.’” theguardian.com. The Guardian. 22 July 2013. Web. 22 April 2016.
Eisenstadt, Michael. “Defeating ISIS: A Strategy for a Resilient Adversary and an Intractable Conflict.” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 20 (2014): 1-12. Print
Gorka, Sebastian and Katharine Gorka. ISIS: The Threat to the United States. Threat Knowledge Group Special Report. Virginia: Threat Knowledge Group, November 2015. Print.
Kelly, James. “Not Our Fight Alone: An Analysis of the US Strategy Combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” CMC Senior Theses (2015): 5-49. Print.
Lewis, Jessica. The Islamic State: A Counter- Strategy for a Counter State. Middle East Security Report. Washington DC: Institute for the Study of War, July 2014.
Nance, Malcolm, and Richard Engel. Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016. Print.
Patel, David. “ISIS in Iraq: What We Get Wrong And Why 2015 Is Not 2007 Redux.” Crown Center for Middle East Studies (2015): 1-9.
Ricks, Thomas. “7 steps towards dealing with ISIS .” foreignpolicy.com. FP. 19 November 2015. Web. 22 April 2016.
Schmidt, Michael, and Helene Cooper. More is Needed to beat ISIS, Pentagon Officials Conclude. nytimes.com. The New York Times. 28 January 2016. Web. 22 April 2016.
Weiss, Michael and Ilhan Tanir. “The Case Against Non-intervention in Syria.” henryjacksonsociety.org The Henry Jackson Society. March 2012. Web. 22 April 2016.