independent

Wednesday 17 July 2019

While the West dithers, Islamic fundamentalism continues to grow in power

IF THERE'S one thing that is abundantly clear, it's that the so called Islamic States, formerly ISIS, is not going to go away any time soon Western dithering in Syria, the lack of support for the Syrian National Coalition formed to oust Bashar al-Assad, and a hands off approach by the world's leading democracies , allowed the fundamentalists to grow in power.

Their broad appeal to young Muslims in the West, a sense of outrage over perceived double standards in the treatment of Israel and the Palestinians, led to thousands travelling to Syria and more recently Iraq to join the Jihadist cause.

While Syria may have been the spark, IS is intent on bringing its bloody revolution to Europe's doorstep.

It has Syria and Iraq in its sights, but its ambitions are far greater and countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have reason to tremble.

President Obama's air strikes have shown that IS, with its extended lines, is vulnerable, but airstrikes alone will not lead to the collapse of the movement.

While there is no appetite for Western 'boots on the ground' in Iraq, it's hard to see how the Iraqis and the Kurds can defeat the insurgents without significant outside help unless the people turn on the militants.

One glimmer of hope is that Iraq at last looks like it is getting a more representative government, one that represents all the people of that country, rather than at the expense of the Sunnis who ruled under Saddam Hussein.

The key to begin dislodging IS is for the well-armed Sunni tribes, many of which stood by when the Jihadists were rampaging through their towns and villages a few short months ago, to feel that they will get more representation within the new Iraqi government.

Thousands of Christians and other minorities fled from the IS onslaught, and hundreds were killed in terrible circumstances.

For outright hate, medieval savagery and absolute intolerance, IS has no match.

The beheading of American journalist James Foley was an act of brutality that has outraged the world.

But what good outrage if this, like other acts of terror, is left unchecked and unpunished.

Iraq needs all the help it can get in expelling and defeating IS, but isn't it about time that regional states too stepped up to the mark.

If they do not, they could find themselves on the receiving end of IS brutality in the future.

A well armed, well funded, ideologically driven and motivated insurgent army, like IS, is a threat not just to Iraq but to Europe, the United States and democracies everywhere in the world.

New Ross Standard

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