The ISIS Enigma: Such Organisations Can’t Be Subdued With Mere Force
In today’s New York Times, the leading article is captioned: “Caliphate is Gone, but ISIS is Not”. The ISIS is the phenomenon which emerged fourteen hundred years ago, by the name of Kharjis, when the two revered factions of early Islam, started fighting against each other. Similarly it emerged again under Abu Bakar Baghdadi, opposing the internecine war in Syria.
In 2014, the ISIS comprised three main groups – the Syrian, Iraqi and the 3-4000 Saudis under Ahmad Kheshgi. They now stand defeated in Syria, but will continue to threaten these two countries in particular, as well as other Muslim countries devastated by war during the last three decades.
“There are 15,000-20,000 armed ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, accelerating faster than efforts to prevent it.” (J.F.Jeffrey)
I wrote the article “The ISIL Enigma” some five years back, published in our English and Urdu dailies in September 2014. Describing the phenomenon of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), I said, it is not new to the Muslim World, but for others it is an enigma.
ISIL has grown out of the deep frustration, hate, disenchantment and injustices experienced by a group of people who now have risen in revolt, to correct the course, in their own puritan ways.
Such a phenomenon first occurred in 37 AH, by the name of Kharjis, who fought the bloody battle of Niharwan against Caliph Hazrat Ali. They revolted because the battles of Jamal and Siffin, which Hazrat Ali fought against Hazrat Ayesha and Hazrat Muwaviah, so gravely disenchanted them in respect of these personalities, whom the followers of the Faith, so much revered and loved.
The ‘shock and awe’ brutalities committed by US and their allies, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and sanctions on Iran, drew the hate line. Now, the Sunni-Shia divide in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Palestine, was induced to create internal conflicts. Political Islam was rejected in favour of modernity, whereas the Muslims in general believe that:
“Human existence should be God-centered human order, whereas the proponents of modernity prefer an order that favours individual autonomy and marginalized God. Not God first but We first.”
Even a country like Pakistan, where an exemplary Shia-Sunni harmony exists, all kinds of machinations have been devised, to break the harmony. The Kharjis of early Islam revolted because of their disenchantment with their most respected personalities of the Faith.
Similarly, the ISIL of the present times has revolted against the Shia-Sunni conflict and the collusion of their leaders with the enemies of Islam, creating deep hatred for their rulers. Shia & Sunni countries now are pitched against each other in Syria and Iraq – a reminiscence of the battles of Jamal and Siffin.
As if that was not enough, under the leadership of United States of America, a new plan now has been worked-out, on 14th February 2019 at Warsaw, to accelerate the Shia-Sunni conflict, by assigning responsibility to Israel, to contain and curb Iran, while India has been tasked to deal with Pakistan, and bring Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia Pacific region under Indian hegemonic domination. Trump is oblivious of the reality because he thinks that by using the military power they can “contain, degrade and destroy the ISIS.” He is wrong. The problem has gone much beyond the military capability to restore order.
The Americans went all out to destroy Al-Qaida and claim to have killed Osama and his entire network Al-Qaida is alive, and spreading over several countries and more destructive than ever.
With India and Israel, joining this nexus, it becomes much more ominous for the Muslims and the world at large. The Muslim World was able to contain and assimilate the Kharjis into the Islamic order. That is the approach, the civilized world must follow.
Of necessity, it requires of the Americans and their allies a cool heart and a perceptive mind, to develop a new strategy, a new plan and a new approach to deal with this problem.
But unfortunately, “they don’t know what else to do. Use of military has become their ‘Default Option.” The former President Obama is not oblivious of the reality, when he says:
“Oh, it’s a shame when you have a dissident professional President, with no foreign policy, other than “don’t do stupid things”.
Yet Trump can’t help doing things like “moving the American embassy to East Jerusalem”, and the “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel sovereignty over the Golden Heights.” Sure, he needs to develop a noble heart, like that of Jacinta Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, to correct the course.
The author is former Army chief of Pakistan.