The ISIS terrorist organization was established after the collapse of a series of coexistence trials. It changed maps and tore borders apart, and maps are like buildings, they always need maintenance. Negligence speeds up their demise with walls cracking and doors breaking down. Factionalism policies rattle their core and peace.
This gives “black winds” the chance to infiltrate into them. Songs and armies are not enough to protect the borders. Based on experiences, borders fall from within before they are violated from the outside.
Today, the region rejoices the series of strikes against ISIS, and it is within its right to celebrate. ISIS is a storm of blood and mud and a heavy chapter of injustice and darkness in the story of time. Stories of those captivated or orphaned by ISIS are both heartbreaking and terrifying.
But, what is more important than victorious celebrations are the lessons learned.
This terrible organization wasn’t dropped over our societies but rather penetrated through cracks and supported by experienced fighters driven by their grudges. ISIS couldn’t have violated borders hadn’t they were already suffering and it couldn’t have settled in the region hadn’t the national will been torn apart.
War on ISIS seems a difficult one with suicide bombers, tunnels, explosives, and young men brainwashed until they became bombs searching for a chance to detonate themselves.
A comprehensive war
Yet despite its importance, this war should be part of a more comprehensive war. Real victory is overcoming the idea of ISIS and the circumstances that facilitated the birth of the organization and its infiltration into one country or another.
Without an encompassing confrontation against ISIS on the streets, in school books, in the media and in mosques, the war on the terrorist organization remains incomplete and the results are endangered.
ISIS militants can escape and live as lone wolves waiting for the right moment to explode anywhere.
Without an encompassing confrontation against ISIS on the streets, in school books, in the media and in mosques, the war on the terrorist organization remains incompleteGhassan Charbel
The most important thing about a broad confrontation is taking a difficult and probably painful decision to coexist. This doesn’t mean returning to the fake coexistence on television that failed its first test. The point is to have people within countries and countries live together.
One must admit that ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi couldn’t have emerged in Mosul, Iraq and open the door on this costly tragedy had the relations between Iraqi components been healthy and normal.
ISIS wouldn’t have been able to infiltrate into Syrian territories and take over the popular revolution causing its failure if relations between Syrian components had been natural within a normal state.
We must make the decision to coexist with the world and the different various beliefs, ethnicities, and colors without thinking that we should impose our beliefs on the world or otherwise destroy it.
Believing that we have to subjugate the world into becoming like us is the shortest way towards becoming a ticking bomb in this world. We enter into a crushing clash more than we can handle if we fail to admit to one’s right to be different.
Considering anyone different from us as an enemy or someone who strayed from the right path consolidates demarcation which blocks any cooperation we need to achieve progress reached by other countries.
Those countries went through their own costly experiences and survived with the belief that being different can enrich them and is a right that should be respected. Thinking that it is our duty to salvage humanity based on a single concept that can’t be interpreted or even without considering any other forms puts us in front of a wall and pushes us towards disaster.
Before making the decision to coexist with other people outside our region, living with others within the region must be determined. Considering every different idea a crime and a threat is the first step towards civil wars, identities terminations, and massacres. We must admit to other people’s right in a building, or a village, or a city to be different, and it is within their right to be equal and feel safe in a state based on citizenship and not on a majority, regardless of demographic percentages and modifications.
There is no way out of this hellhole that created hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of refugees unless we coexist. Without deciding that, every victory is threatened of becoming another round in a war that settles and rekindles.
Without a true determination, torn societies will be the perfect opportunities for ISIS and similar organizations to resurface again.
Final triumph over ISIS can’t happen without the mission to build a truly modern state with rights and duties. It is not possible without citizenship in a country that respects the right to be different and a country of opportunities, comprehensive development, welcoming curriculum, and open and responsible media.
There is no way out of this hellhole if interventions and coups continue and if elimination and hatred policies are still used. For ages now, we tried these vindictive futile policies and retaliations that took us out of the race for the future, poisoned our states, capitals, and colleges. We can’t keep swimming in these turbid waters.
Determination doesn’t mean that we are personally turning our children and their children into fuel for upcoming wars, nor does it mean we allow our countries to become pools of blood struggling with poverty and unemployment.
Our problem didn’t begin with ISIS’ existence to end with a military victory over it. Our real issue is failing the test of time to follow up development and modern age. Our problem is that we don’t want to pay for the train ticket heading towards the future.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Ghassan Charbel is the Editor-in-Chief of London-based Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Ghassan's Twitter handle is @GhasanCharbel.