The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda

By: Ashur Sada

The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda. But there may still be time to act.

The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda. But there may still be time to act.

They fed the pet until it became a monster, and then it was too big to control!

For years in the 1980s, the US and the west in general supported the Mujahedeen (a precursor to Al_Qaeda) , to help it defeat the Soviets in their invasion of Afghanistan. It took the horrific attacks of September 2011 to wake them up and realize that they had created a monster that was now attacking the very people that helped and supported it. It was time to kill the monster. Not very easy. It would take over a decade and billion of dollars. And it continues to this very day: the war on terrorism.

Unfortunately, it seems like no lesson was learnt from this war on terrorism. Fast forward to 2012. The west started backing the opposition in Syria to topple the moderate regime of Bashar Al-Assad. But there was no organized opposition. It was a loose movement of various groups, mainly the ‘Free Syrian Army’ and some other Islamic ones. The Islamic Army, which had experience fighting in Iraq started to grow in power and numbers in Syria. Within a year or so, they established themselves as the most powerful and lethal opposition group in Syria. While this was happening-starting in 2013-the west continued to arm and support these opposition groups even if it was now led by a ruthless terrorist organization. Week after week, the Islamic army in Syria was growing more bloody and ruthless. Scenes of torture, beheadings, even eating the heart of a Syrian soldier, became a routine and something expected from this terrorist organization in Syria.

In 2014, the organization officially became ISIS: the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (now referred to as IS: Islamic State). By June 2014, ISIS had become too powerful to contain or ignore. On June 9, they took over the Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. That was followed by the capture of various other Sunni, Yezidi and Assyrian Christian cities to the east, west and south of Mosul. And in the process, they killed, beheaded, tortured literally thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers. If that wasn’t bad enough,  they also drove hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians, Yezidis and other minorities from their homes in various nearby towns and villages (Sanjar, Nineveh Plain etc.)

As ISIS grow more and more bold, they set their sight on the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. With the Kurds being a key US ally in Iraq and the middle east in general, the US finally woke up and decided to attack ISIS. To them, by attacking the Kurds, ISIS had essentially crossed a red line. In other words, it didn’t matter how many thousands of civilians it had killed before, it only mattered when the Kurds were attacked.

But there was a bigger wake up call. It occurred on August 19. That is when ISIS beheaded American freelance photojournalist James Foley. Suddenly, the US felt like ISIS is now a direct threat to it and not just to the middle east. Not to mention, there has been countless other direct threats made by ISIS members recently, vowing to attack US cities and other interests in the country. 

And that brings us to the main question: did the US and its western allies miss the boat on ISIS like they did with Al-Qaeda? Or is there still time to do something about it? The good thing is, while they did behead a US citizen, they still haven’t attacked the US mainland directly.  The bad news, that could just be a matter of time, especially with a president as incompetent and disengaged as US president Obama. The US and its allies armed the Syrian opposition to help it topple Syrian president Al-Assad. Unfortunately, the alternative was ISIS which is as barbaric as you can ever imagine.  With ISIS now controlling areas in Syria and Iraq as large in size as the country of Jordan, don’t think that hasn’t made them bold and motivated enough to expand their fictional caliphate state. With the US now helping the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshamrga to attack ISIS, the latter has become enraged and is vowing to take revenge from the US. They started it by the beheading of James Foley. And depending on any sleeper cells they have in the US, they may attempt to launch attacks in the US itself. Not to mention, given the disastrous state of the US-Mexico borders, the terror organization may try to sneak some of its own agents across the border. US homeland security has already alerted local enforcement agencies to be on alert and ready for any threats.

Why has the US become a country that only reacts to events after it is too late than to act while it is still early and prevent things from escalating? At this point, there is even talk about the US cooperating with the Syrian government to eliminate ISIS in Syria as well. What a difference a year makes: it was just last year that the US was busy trying to support the Syrian opposition and the main  benefactor from that was ISIS.

It may be a little late to react but they should still continue to attack ISIS-in cooperation with the Iraqi and Syrian armies-as hard as they can until they are virtually eliminated from the region. All those thousands of US soldiers didn’t die in Iraq only for it to be taken over by a terrorist organization whose teachings and governance is inspired by guidance from the 7th century!

Complicating matters is the fact that the US is stuck with a president who is removed from reality, for another 2 years or so. Obama in his very nature, is a president that reacts to events. And even then, he is often late. Hesitation and indecision are some of the best words to describe his presidency. But with an organization as ruthless, barbaric and bloody like ISIS, you simply can’t afford to wait. Frustratingly, with the Iraqi government in such shambles and stuck in a never-ending transition phase, there is no hope that they can put their house in order any time soon. Until then, the US should attack ISIS as ruthlessly as they can, with or without the help of the Iraqi government and army.

Failure to do so will mean that the US will soon have to fight ISIS in its own homeland in the near future.

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