Fighting ISIS from Reality to Media Hype

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Has Immolation of Jordanian Pilot Awakened Arabs?

Ali Mousavi Khalkhali
Member of Editorial Board of Iranian Diplomacy

The recent burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by the ISIS terrorist group, while he was put in a metal cage dressed in an orange jumpsuit like the one worn by Guantanamo Bay prisoners, was a horrible act of inhumanity. His punishment, meanwhile, was not in line with any religious teachings or Islamic commands that ISIS claims to be defending and following. All religious groups and various Arab countries have condemned ISIS’ measure in the strongest words. Even Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed el-Tayeb, the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar University of Egypt, issued a strongly-worded statement which vehemently condemned ISIS for its inhuman act, adding that based on Quran, the members of ISIS should be killed by having their hands and feet cut in opposite directions. Even some radical and extremist Arab currents have taken ISIS to task for what it did to the Jordanian pilot.

The government of Jordan, on the other hand, has been taking advantage of the existing media hype over this incident and has launched widespread propaganda to defend its performance in joining the US-sponsored fight against ISIS. In doing so, it has stirred great social fervor for the suppression of this horrifying terrorist network.

Of course, it is both good and understandable that everybody has been censuring such an act of terror and has been actively condemning it. The international community should work against terrorism and violence to the extent that all its capacities allow. At the same time, the social atmosphere should be driven in a direction as to raise the psychological and social costs of such behaviors to a level that nobody would ever dare to commit similar crimes.

All these points are correct, but the question is why the Arab world has just remember how violent ISIS is and, therefore, should be fought against? What has happened to justify such a high level of public opinion mobilization against ISIS in a bid to create social legitimacy for the fight against this terrorist group?

The ISIS intensified is acts of crime from last summer, specifically from August 2014, and conducted many violent, and at the same time suspicious, attacks on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the eastern parts of Syria, and the Kurdish Syrian town of Kobani. It also made inroads on the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and similar regions in Syria. In none of those attacks did the Arab community say anything against ISIS, nor did it take any step to condemn the brutalities of this terror network. When ISIS was busy committing crimes against humanity by targeting Iraqi Shias at Camp Speicher in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, or when it was committing widespread and blatant acts of crime against Yazidi and Christian minorities in various parts of Iraq, including the Iraqi Kurdistan, or when it was slaughtering Kurdish women and children in the Syrian town of Kobani, the city of Kirkuk and other parts of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish regions, the Arab community kept total mum and paid no attention not those crimes. As if, nothing was happening in Iraq or Syria.

Before the Jordanian pilot was set on fire, two Japanese citizens and a number of American and European citizens had been beheaded by ISIS, but the Arab countries showed no reaction and did not even issue a simple statement to condemn those crimes. It seemed that for Arabs nothing that happened to non-Arabs actually mattered and non-Sunnis are considered neither Muslims, nor even humans.

Even when the United States started to forge an international coalition to fight ISIS, only a few Arab countries volunteered to be part of that coalition, though they were actually pursuing other goals under its aegis. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and even Jordan joined the coalition against ISIS in the hope of making the most of the coalition by using it as an excuse to attack Syria and topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Apart from that, they were not actually thinking about fighting ISIS’ crimes. This is true because when Kobani was surrounded by ISIS, all Arab countries withdrew from the coalition and even Qatar quit the coalition in silence. The United Arab Emirates let its pilots conduct a few sorties over the ISIS positions in Syria, but after that, stopped its operation on the pretext that it cannot get more involved in the fight against the ISIS. As for Saudi Arabia, its cooperation with the coalition was apparently confined to security collaboration. Of course, Riyadh openly complained that the United States has not made the overthrow of Assad the main goal of the coalition it has formed to fight ISIS. Jordan had been trying since a long time ago to withdraw from anti-ISIS coalition and was mulling this step even before its pilot was taken into captivity by the terror group. Some media sources even reported that at a juncture, the Jordanian government has been bargaining with ISIS to free the Jordanian pilot in return for Amman to get out of the coalition against ISIS. This issue clearly shows that Arabs are more biased than actually thought and prefer their own tribal and racial tendencies and affiliations over any other criteria.

At any rate, there is a positive turn to this development as well. Now, Arabs will have to enter a serious fight against this horrible terrorist group and assume their positions on the front line. Sending fighter jets by the United Arab Emirates to Jordan for air strikes against ISIS is a telltale sign of a new move by Arabs to fight ISIS. As if they have just come to realize how brutal this groups is, of course, presuming that they would not withdraw from this fight against ISIS when the story of the Jordanian pilot slips into oblivion. After all, from the viewpoint of Arabs, ISIS is a Sunni group which has just crossed certain lines in its conduct.

Key Words: Fighting ISIS, Immolation, Jordanian Pilot, Terrorist Group, Yazidi, Christian Minorities, Arab Countries, Non-Arabs, Non-Sunnis, Mousavi Khalkhali

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: The Peninsula Times

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