ISIS: The new Red Line
ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a red line, regardless of the differences and goals of each party in this regional game
We are witnessing a unique situation, in which the positions of the countries, parties and tribes are revolving around the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has become the reason behind the gathering of opponents. Most of the Iraqi forces, whether Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish, agreed to reconcile because they are all afraid of ISIS. It has also accelerated the departure of Nouri al-Maliki from the premiership. Most of the Sunni opposition went back to Baghdad to cooperate.
The government of Kurdistan reconciled with the government in Baghdad, giving it back two oil fields and ending the estrangement. Even President Barack Obama reneged on his promise to abstain from fighting in Iraq since the withdrawal of his troops. Likewise, Iran has abandoned al-Maliki and Saudi Arabia accepted his substitute Haider al-Abadi. What an extraordinary story! Everyone should understand it well. The moral of this story is that there is no place for ISIS and that it is impossible to use it to manipulate the region.
Leaders in the Sunni Anbar province in Iraq have had a heated dispute over ISIS. Some tribes declared that, with the departure of Nuri al-Maliki, they are now ready to cooperate with the government to fight against the terrorist organization that threatens all. Other tribes announced yesterday that they refuse to fight against the organization, threatening to use it until their demands are met.
A long and perilous path
The path of getting rid of this organization is long and perilous. While its opponents agreed to put aside their disagreements in order to fight together against it, ISIS showed no less intelligence and the ability to get into the political scene: it wants to exploit the disagreements between the Sunni tribes against them in Anbar and Nineveh. There are some governments in the region that believe in being more intelligent; therefore they continue to finance ISIS to threaten not only Iraq, but Saudi Arabia as well! They had used the rebelling tribes to cover for the deployment of the organization in the province, to enable it of recruiting the largest number of angry people, and use it for different purposes later on.
ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a red line, regardless of the differences and goals of each party in this regional gameAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Now, the terrorist organization has become a serious force in different parts of Iraq. It owns now oil and wheat after seizing the governmental silos. It also has advanced and huge weaponry after seizing Iraqi army stores. It is now able to control large areas thanks to the increase in its numbers and the money it seized. The Al-Masdar website has said that ISIS used blackmail to impose taxes: “According to data from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, ISIS collected taxes from businessmen in Mosul before even taking hold of the city. The value of those taxes reached 8 million dollars per month”. ISIS has now a large capital due to selling petroleum and looting public funds.
ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a red line, regardless of the differences and goals of each party in this regional game.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 16, 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.