First perhaps we need clarify that we here at BTC refuse to recognize the terrorist bands which makeup ISIS and have declared themselves a new name of IS claiming that they are now an actual nation state and the home to the new Caliphate. Due to this decision not to honor the declarations of an overgrown terrorist group on the order of Hezballah, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Muslim Brotherhood and their delusions of statehood, we will continue to use their initial name ISIS, the name of a terrorist group which terrorizes through such horrific actions as beheadings leaving the heads on poles as a display of their hold and threat on an area, crucifixions, mass graves, rapes and slavery including sexual slavery among other depraved actions in order to terrify, cower and intimidate those it holds the power of the sword and a legitimacy spelled in the spilling of blood. Should our doing so be perceived as an insult then all the better as we could not be more proud than to be detested by such as ISIS.
The beheading of American photojournalist James Wright Foley provided the Western world the unavoidable definition of the barbarity which is ISIS, or as they now refer to themselves, merely IS. This is not to minimize the horrors which included the mass murders of Christians, some by a torturous crucifixion, the attempted genocide of the Yazidi Peoples, rapes and enslavement of numbers of women and children, forced conversions, mass killings, burial of victims alive and other horrors, all of which had been reported in many newscasts since ISIS initially broke out of Syria sweeping across western and central Iraq. The sickening and repugnant video which was released this past week which included the threat to further behead other American and Western hostages being held by ISIS such as Steven Joel Sotloff, also an American journalist captured in Syria covering that civil war, should the United States continue their campaign assisting those resisting further ISIS advances. The United States limited bombing efforts have been described as being an assist enabling the Kurdish forces to turn back the advances of ISIS and even gaining back some ground which provided the Kurds with access to a route to rescue a number of Yazidi families and individuals as well as retake the Mosul dam which had ISIS carried out their threat to destroy the dam would have caused massive casualties and damage on the cities and villages downstream potentially past Baghdad all the way to the Persian Gulf.
The brutalities and threats to life, civility and modernity posed by ISIS through its ideals and definitions of Islam as practiced and brutally applied by their leadership is now unavoidable by the leadership of the Western nations. This new clarity of threat that is ISIS screams out for unified action to prevent the further spread and genocidal purification of the population threatened by the advance of ISIS. Somehow, such an effort appears to be quite slow in developing and consists mostly of sporadic bombing by the United States and the early return to Washington by President Obama and similarly British Prime Minister David Cameron will also curtail his vacation plans and return to London. Any announcement of a change in tactics and applying force on the ground with the application of troops has been noticeably silent thus far making any such reaction at best slow in materializing. The purported American war weariness appears to have not been broken by the acts from ISIS including the beheading of James Wright Foley and threats to behead Steven Joel Sotloff along with other American and Western hostages. Whether these emotions will show signs of weakening is verily a contestable premise with many claiming that there appears to be no limit to the ability of the people, or at least the media portrayal of the people, to ignore current events and remain cocooned in their isolationist tranquility. This political inertia also readily ignores the presence of American military advisors who are stationed in the Kurdish capital of Irbil in support to the Peshmerga Militias who are currently confronting the Islamic State forces.
The future horizon holds its hopes on the new leadership in Baghdad as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is set to step down offering a glimmer of hope for a more stable Iraq in the face of the challenges ahead due to ISIS threats and a situation which President Obama on Monday called “a promising step forward.” Still, this remains something which, if it will actually signal any improvement, is a distant solution in a situation demanding immediate responses. The main available and viable presence which can and has already made advances in not only stopping the advances by ISIS but has actually tuned the tides and retaken lands formerly consumed by ISIS as they swarmed out of Syria and across Iraq, has been the Kurds from their semiautonomous lands in northern Iraq. It has been those Kurdish Peshmerga Militias who relieved much of the siege of the Yazidis and retook the critical infrastructure of the Mosul Dam both with limited but sufficient assists from United States airstrikes. This would be the perfect time to fully assist the Kurdish forces while simultaneously recognizing their independence and rewarding them with the statehood they had been promised at the resolution of World War I but were later denied this promise when oil was discovered in their promised areas and the British already had an advantageous contract with the leadership they had approved for Iraq. Kurdistan could become the first best weapon which could possibly circumvent the necessity for Western troops to place boots on the ground limiting the Western support to mostly a bombing campaign with some need for close air support in those cases where such would prove critically necessary, something not all that different than what President Obama has already committed to perform and perhaps a doubling of efforts.
The real challenge the ISIS threat might pose would be an attempted invasion beyond Iraq. The probability of ISIS turning their forces towards Turkey is almost completely out of the question as Turkey is either a current ally or a future ally of ISIS and stands for much the same application of extreme Islamist Sharia. Their turning to the east and into Iran would also be unlikely as ISIS lacks the manpower and military abilities to take on Iran as they are equipped with elite forces, airpower, heavy battle tanks and huge numbers of troops. Turning west into Jordan poses a similar problem even if on a lesser scale as far as numbers of troops capable of being fielded. Jordan does possess an air force but might turn to their western neighbor, unofficially of course, and request that Israel aid the Jordanian efforts through timely air support as necessitated. That pretty much leaves southward as ISIS’s most likely and viable choice. This would narrow their choices to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. This choice is also dictated by geography and the self-imposed imperative whereby ISIS desires to avoid any direct confrontation with Iran. This forces ISIS into taking a western approach around Baghdad and also leaving room between themselves and Jordan which brings them to the northern border of central Saudi Arabia. This would place the ISIS penetration points somewhere west of the main Saudi Arabian oil fields and east of the main Saudi Arabian main military airfield which houses their squadrons providing the initial line of attack or defense from Israel. This airfield is home to a large contingency of United States provided F-15s and F-16s, some of which are very probably the latest and most modern variety available for export.
Such an attack would be in line with the ISIS announced agenda of facing and defeating the Islamic leadership which they view as impure. They have previously listed the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia as the pin-up leaders representing impure and non-Islamist governance which is in need of being destroyed and replaced with the pure Islamic governance which only ISIS is capable of providing. Additionally, should ISIS gain a sufficient foothold in the Saudi Peninsula, they could conceivably gain control over major parts of the Saudi Arabian oilfields, and an area heavily populated with Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites. This would add additional impetus for ISIS fighters as they would not only be working to place their extremist purified Islamism over what they view as an unholy governance, they would also be able to force these Shiite, more accurately non Sunni, apostates in the eyes of ISIS to convert before the cleansing sword of the ISIS elite leadership. This could serve ISIS as a further recruitment piece of propaganda similar in scope but potentially far more significant in the numbers of new recruits under their control. This is what ISIS defines themselves by, areas and numbers under their control, a measure which they will only accept as sufficient by their control and rule over the entire world. As absurd as such a claim may sound, to the fighters and leadership of ISIS this is exactly what their entire purpose by which success is defined. Many also believe that they cannot be defeated and that their quest to rule over all of mankind is a blessed undertaking in Jihad and their success is guaranteed for as long as their actions receive the approval and support of Allah. Perhaps this would be a good place to define the difference between the Judeo-Christian G0d and Allah; the two are not simply separate manners for naming the same entity. The most readily and easiest way of showing this is actually cut and dry. Where G0d of the Jews and Christians is defined as the G0d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Allah is the god of Abraham, Ishmael, and Mohammad. They are as different as composed tranquility and chaotic ferocity. The reported actions, proclivities and self-definitions all prove the violence and explosive animosities which lie at the root of ISIS and from where its adherents derive their power and strength.
The hope is that the burning vehemence with which their new recruits are empowered with will consume them so completely that soon only the smoldering husk of ISIS will remain; a fragile structure that the slightest breeze is capable of destroying. The fear is that the only two results which will result from the efforts of ISIS, either their dream of an Islamist Sharia governed world will remain and will resemble a charred husk of uniformity enforced by the swords what molded it or the destruction of ISIS and the breaking of their swords before they carve up any more of the globe. The former will be the inevitable should the Western world refuse to engage and defeat ISIS militarily while at this juncture the later would be readily achieved with the timely application of overwhelming force of a full deployment of the entirety of the ready response forces which are available to NATO in case of any emergency, and if this does not so qualify then those forces are as useless as a chaperone on ones’ wedding night.
We are facing a challenge to civilization similar to the buildup to World War II when Germany could have been defeated as a response to their aggressive claims on northern Czechoslovakia or their poisonous interference in the Austrian elections and subsequent near bloodless invasion. Should ISIS remain uncontested and thus gain a foothold in the Saudi Arabian oilfields, then they will have gained a source of power, influence and financial riches beyond anything any previous Islamists have been capable of attaining. Sure the Taliban and al-Qaeda had control of Afghanistan and parts of the tribal regions of Pakistan and the financial largess of Osama bin Laden’s fortune and Hezballah influences the every move by the Lebanese government and the benefit of Iran providing them with weapons and their other necessities, ISIS would be gaining size and an endless cash flowing in that they could take their time and build a modern, well equipped and sizeable military force which would provide them with sufficient force that they could likely intimidate major Sunni Arab nations and potentially beyond to bend before their threat and surrender to ISIS approved governance. Add their increased ability would make Iran vulnerable to an ISIS attack which is currently out of the question today and such an accomplishment by ISIS would provide them with the arms to threaten Europe, North America and the remainder of the globe with their gained possession of Iranian nuclear and missile capabilities and power. The best thing would be for ISIS to be confronted now and not be left to Saudi Arabia, the GCC member nations and Israel to ally solely for the end of ISIS. Threats to the balance of power and the injection of a radical and extremist group be they anarchists, religious or Islamist like ISIS can produce alliances between some of the most divergent and even antagonist powers. Right now the plans and thoughts should be centered on how to and with what forces ISIS can be utterly and completely defeated in such a manner that no other groups will dare push that challenge point again. Let us hope that the leadership of the world awakens and deals with this challenge which thus far they have ignored pretending it is not there. Unfortunately, pretending that ISIS does not exist will do little to actually realize ISIS not existing but will more likely set up the scenario where many lives will be senseless sacrificed and far too much property and infrastructure will be destroyed making the worldwide repairs and recuperations unnecessarily long and arduous. Will the world awaken or are we doomed to once again repeat history by not answering the threat of the screaming barbarians at our gates.
Beyond the Cusp