ISIS vs. the coalition: The Mideast’s endless wars

Extremists nowadays go under many different names

Mohamed Chebarro

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ISIS, ISIL, the extremists, the war on terror 2.0 – there are many titles for the renewed threat. Did we see this threat retreat after the fall of the iron curtain? Was there a lull after the September 11, 2001 attacks and the U.S. war on the Taliban and also the war on Saddam Hussein?

We are being told that the threat level is rising in the post Arab Spring Middle East amid a new order in Egypt and Tunisia and disorder in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. That is not to forget the constant crisis in Syria and the recruitment campaigns by ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.

These fighters are now threatening their Western homelands and this is what encouraged the international coalition to take action against the terror performed by ISIS, extremists or the founder of ISIS himself. The threat could even spread within the Arab world – Yemen to Libya, who knows!

Ah, and another reason for this odd and mismatched alliance against the terrorists is Nouri al-Maliki.

Iraq’s national army evaporated after a push by militants in Mosul and Tikrit. A replacement for Maliki was selected hastily after months of stalling, coupled with sectarian calls to arms. Perhaps this scared the militants and forced them to turn away from Baghdad and seek a new target.

Kurds, Turkmen and Yazidis in northern Iraq were attacked. Minorities are once again in the eye of the storm – a simple story for Western media to fixate upon. Innocent Yazidi Iraqis and Turkmen were stranded with no food no water on Mount Sinjar.

Such images constituted a turning point as the West issued statements of solidarity with the Yazidis, from the White House, to Whitehall and Canberra, Australia.

Loose coalition

The loose coalition of 40+ nations began shipping weapons to fight the monsters wreaking havoc in Amerli, Kobane, Mount Sinjar and areas of Iraq. Air sorties and bombing missions were flown over Syria, with or without Assad’s agreement and despite the condemnations heard from his allies in Tehran and Moscow.

The language used by world leaders could only have been scripted by Hollywood’s best screen writers as images of bombing missions flooded TVs everywhere.

Yet, as an observer I could not see one dead monster, or masked knife wielding fighter. After air sorties and skyrocketing costs, where are the results?

Then came the supposedly reassuring news, British fighter jets and the intelligence gatherers say they have located so called “Jihadi John” in Raqqa, Syria. For those who forgot, he is the British accented masked fighter allegedly responsible for the slaughter Western hostages held by ISIS. I think that he may have already perished as a result of a GR4 Tornado fighter Jet strike on his base.

So, slowly but surely it seems that the bombing campaign is producing results. The end may not be near – as world leaders have predicted that the fight could last for years – and the enemy will constantly be redefined during this time, as will the endgame and objectives.

The mismatch in objectives is clear, the definition of the enemy is loose as all parties have different views. for the U.S, the threat emanates from the likes of ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban at the moment, while France fears ISIS, al-Nusra and Assad’s government.

Regarding Arab countries, some fear ISIS, Assad, Hezbollah and Ansar Allah in Yemen and Iran. Turkey in particular views ISIS as a threat and perhaps also the Kurds of Iraq and Syria.

To wrap up, I imagine myself as a fly on the wall in the war rooms of those countries united against ISIS and extremism - strewn with empty coffee mugs and littered with ever changing maps of enemy lines in the campaign to ensure the defense of the free and democratic world from the emerging evil doers who live in caves and slums all over the world.


Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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