ISIS has reached the border of Saudi Arabia
Similar to what happened in Syria, what is now happening in Iraq is a genuine revolution
A brief Saudi Royal Court statement has reflected the heightened state of alert in the entire region: The extremists have reached the border. Al-Qaeda is a stone's throw from three countries: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. ISIS, the most extreme faction of al-Qaeda, is mobilizing its forces to face Assad’s regime and recently, Maliki’s government. ISIS has built an army of thousands of suicide bombers of different nationalities, all of whom are prepared to return to their countries and start a world war.
ISIS, the most extreme faction of al-Qaeda, is mobilizing its forces to face Assad’s regime and recently, Maliki’s government. ISIS has built an army of thousands of suicide bombers of different nationalities, all of whom are prepared to return to their countries and start a world war.
Similar to what happened in Syria, what is now happening in Iraq is a genuine revolution against a sectarian, repugnant rule. What Al-Qaeda has done is that it became involved in this revolution under many banners: ISIS, al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. They then claimed to support the oppressed people until they took the stage with their extraordinary global capabilities. The group exploited the anger of millions of Sunni people around the world, from Indonesia to Britain, and made them cheer for its achievements. As such, ISIS today is the star of the box office, as my colleague Youssef al-Dini has described it.
In order to understand the unprecedented and rapid developments, we should be aware that we have two rivals which we cannot take sides with: Assad and Maliki’s sectarian governments on one side, and ISIS and its terrorist affiliates on the other.
Turkey, which was at first confused between Syrian nationalists and Islamist extremists, has finally decided to close its borders to Islamic terrorist groups, declaring that they are now threatening its security and not the Assad regime. Jordan and Saudi Arabia had from the beginning distinguished the moderate national Free Syrian Army from the terrorist ISIS and al-Nusra Front, despite the fact that all three of them are against the Assad's regime.
Limiting the solution to military action against ISIS will not succeed, as evidenced by its failure since 2001Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Now the question might be how we could put together the rivals: Assad, Maliki, ISIS and al-Nusra all in one basket? Well, the truth of the matter is if it weren’t for Assad and Maliki, ISIS and al-Nusra Front would not have existed. Most of their leaders were detained in Syrian and Iraqi prisons and then were released by the regimes who believed that their release would shuffle the cards. Indeed, the cards were shuffled: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia announced their readiness to fight these terrorist groups.
There is no doubt that all regional and international concerned countries are aware of what is happening. We will surely witness vital collective activity on international military and political levels. It is most likely that this will lead to a military camp that will wage a larger-scale war on terrorism. Nevertheless, the problem is still a political one, as each state perceives the danger from a different angle. They are all against these terrorist organizations, but each of them believes in different solutions. The United States faces two competing visions: the first calls for dealing with Iran, and therefore continues to support Assad and Maliki. Meanwhile, European and Gulf countries believe in the change, and believe that without a strong centralized regime that is acceptable in Syria and Iraq, it would be impossible to eliminate extremist groups. Therefore, a political solution must be imposed in Syria and Iraq; Sunnis should be mobilized to cooperate and fight against the extremists.
The Gulf countries believe that fighting against al-Qaeda will only succeed through the cooperation of the Sunnis of Syria and Iraq, as it will ensure the eradication of these terrorist groups. It will stop the international diaspora of Sunnis from sympathizing with this group and its ideology. However, the policies of Assad and Maliki’s sectarian governments have triggered this chaos. Therefore, the solution lies in a strong central government in Baghdad and Damascus with American, Western and regional support. This will most probably be accepted by the Russians.
Limiting the solution to military action against ISIS will not succeed, as seen by its failure since 2001. ISIS will spread thanks to the chaos and sectarian governments that want to export their problems to the world so that they can extend their existence.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 27, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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