Book Review: Is the war on ISIS real?

Mahmoud El-Wardani, Thursday 27 Aug 2015

Daesh…Dirasat fi Binyat Al-Tanzeem

Daesh…Dirasat fi Binyat Al-Tanzeem (ISIS…Studies in the Organisation's Structure) by Dr. Youssri Al-Azabawi (editor), Arab Center for Research and Studies, Cairo, 2015,173 pages 

This book comprises five studies written by specialised researchers with the aim of encompassing the growing phenomenon of the Islamic State group that has been mysterious for some, puzzling for many, and intriguing for others. 

Not only is ISIS gaining new territory in countries like Iraq and Syria everyday, but new terrorist organisations now swear allegiance to the Islamic State, continuing their battles under the ISIS banner, such as happened recently in Libya and Sinai.

Due to the fact that ISIS has become a global phenomenon and not merely a small Islamist terrorist organisation, the first study, which "juxtaposes the international and Arab visions for confronting ISIS,'' by Youssri Al-Azabawi, points to the plans recently declared by American President Barack Obama: to only fight ISIS and not other terrorist organisations, and to do so by forming the so-called International Coalition to undertake the mission. Al-Azabawi writes that these plans do not meet the minimum standards and procedures required by international law.

The study adds that Obama's declaration seemed like a kind of folklore aimed at flexing his muscles and improving his image domestically after his approval ratings have plunged to their lowest levels. This plan also tries to please the weapons manufacturing lobby, which also plays a vital role in manufacturing US presidents. 

Of course, it also aims to appease America's allies in the Middle East, most importantly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. It also sends a threatening message to countries such as Russia, China, and Iran--that the USA is capable of isolating them if they continue to oppose its global expansionist policy.

The study identified a group of measures and steps that Obama’s aforementioned plan was lacking. The most prominent is as follows: It bypasses the Security Council resolution no. 2170 which stipulates the establishment of an international coalition that does not exclude any state capable of participation, especially those at the heart of the conflict. Despite this, Obama ignored Syria, Iran, and Russia, meaning that the American administration has other objectives. 

Another point missing from the plan is how to dry up the sources funding, arming, and training terrorists while also blocking the terrorist infiltration of Iraq and Syria. Moreover, the Gulf states have not committed themselves to blocking the funding of terrorist groups, whether directly or via charity organisations. Likewise, Turkey has not announced that it will stop the inundation of terrorists through its lands and into Syria and Iraq, nor will it stop trading smuggled oil with ISIS. 

Also absent from the plan was any position towards terrorist organisations such as Al-Nusra Front and other dangerous groups. Does Washington consider them moderate organisations? Doesn't the war on terrorism, in the full extent of its meaning, include all of these organisations?

Moreover, the plan failed to explain the style and method of cooperation with the Syrian army; without this cooperation there can be no discussion about launching a war on ISIS.

Finally, the study asserts that Obama's declaration that the war against terrorism will be a long one aims to financially drain the Gulf States through arms purchases. In this context, diplomatic sources indicate that Washington wants to set up a fund for fighting terrorism valued at one hundred billion dollars.

Thus, the study observes that, "Washington does not want to eradicate terrorism starting with ISIS, but rather regulate it with the aim of continuing the political and financial investments under the pretext of fighting terrorism in its subsequent battles with states that oppose American policy and its dictates.”

In spite of all this, the study reasserts that this contradiction in the American standpoint did not prevent the USA from mobilising military support for its war in the form of more than 1600 American soldiers deployed to back up Iraqi troops, while Britain delivered heavy machine guns and ammunition to the Kurdish forces to help them stand their ground against ISIS. Australia also announced the deployment of 600 soldiers to the United Arab Emirates in the framework of the international coalition. Germany declared that it will arm the Peshmerga (the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan) to confront the Islamic State group. This is in addition to humanitarian aid and grants that will be directed to refugees through international organisations such as UNICEF and the Red Cross. As the reader will observe, all of these efforts are meager contributions that cannot stand up against the strongest and wealthiest terrorist organisation threatening the international community.

As for the position of the Arab countries, the study observes that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are at the forefront of the countries against ISIS. However, the study does not identify the nature of this standpoint, its limits, or its feasibility. Meanwhile, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar offered military facilities through a number of American and non-American military bases and the Arab League pledged to fight terrorism and the Islamic State organization—hollow statements that do not commit the member states to taking a clear stand.

The study adds that the main problem is that Arab countries are certain that the US is not serious in fighting terrorism in light of projects it has implemented that have led to the disintegration of the region. The most recent project that has had lasting repercussions was the New Middle East project, which Condoleeza Rice preached to us about in 2005 along with creative destruction and its aftermath.

The four remaining studies cover different facets of the structure of this ferocious and savage organisation. Sherif Al-Labban wrote about the cultural and press strategies needed to confront ISIS, while Ibrahim Nawwar tackled the economic cost of the war against ISIS, the resources of the organisation, the oil fields it controls, and the ways it smuggles oil through an international mafia. Dr. Mohamed Al-Saeed Idris deals with the negative effect of the Islamic State on the Arab-Zionist conflict and finally, Dr. Mohamed Shawki Abdel-Aal writes about the international strategy for combating terrorism.

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