Musts and Must-Nots for Controlling ISIS

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saeid Jafari
Expert on Middle East Issues

Which method is the best way to control the ISIS: limited air strikes, promoting religious tolerance among Islamist groups, threatening and terrorizing people with Salafist and Takfiri ideas, recourse to underground operations or taking advantage of modern military techniques? Various analysts have been musing over a possible solution for this problem during past months and have come up with various ideas. It seems, however, that none of the models offered by them are able to control and restrict the ISIS in a comprehensive manner. Now the question is what policies Iran, as a Shia country, which is also one of the main ideological targets of this terrorist group, should adopt to counter this current? It seems that to counter this current, the Islamic Republic of Iran will have to put special measures on its agenda and, at the same time, avoid of certain actions and behaviors.

Measures Iran should avoid:

1. First of all, Iran should avoid cooperation with the coalition forged by the West to fight the ISIS because such a cooperation will have no other outcome for Iran, but the loss of all its regional political assets. The Western countries will sooner or later leave this region, but Iran will have to continue to live with its Arab neighbors. Therefore, such neighborhood should be characterized by peaceful coexistence.

2. The second mistake that should not be made by Iran is to treat all Salafist groups as a single current. In reality, the population of Takfiris that are at odds with Shias in the Sunni world is a small minority. The rest of the Salafists have problems with the political system in Iran, but this has never made them seek annihilation of Shias as the Takfiris do. From the viewpoint of Al-Azhar University of Egypt and many other Sunni ulema like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Shiism is one of the denominations of Islam. Takfiri groups, however, believe that shedding the blood of Shias is religiously permissible.

3. The third step that should not be taken by Iran with regard to the ISIS is mass and regular encounters with this group. This means that the Arab and Islamic world should not reach the conclusion that it has become the scene of a regular warfare in which one side is the ISIS and Sunni groups with the other side being Iran and Shia groups.

What must be done?

If political initiatives had been given precedence over security and military measures in early days of Syria crisis, the situation in the region would not have been so critical now. At any rate, the history cannot be rewound and lingering in the past will not help to solve this problem in any way. It seems that to get out of the current situation and put an end to the tale of ISIS, we need first of all to focus on political approaches and diplomatic initiatives.

The second step that should be taken in this regard is coordination with all moderate forces across the Islamic world. There are moderate people, personalities and figures across the Islamic world that are not followers of Takfiri sect and avoid violence. From Al-Azhar to some ulema in Pakistan and the Indian Subcontinent, such personalities are disgruntled with the current state of affairs in the region. By proper investment on these currents, the public opinion in the region can be convinced to move toward disavowal of the ISIS brand of radicalism. It should be still noted that following soft solutions is more important than military measures and serious engagement with this crisis. In addition, boosting interactions between Iran and Saudi Arabia can help to bring the current chaotic situation to an end. The latest audio recording attributed to leader of the ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, clearly shows the importance of promoting such interactions. In that recording, the self-proclaimed caliph of the ISIS has urged his followers to attack Saudi Arabia as their next target.

Key Words: Controlling ISIS, Iran, Air Strikes, Religious Tolerance, Islamist Groups, Salafist and Takfiri Ideas, Modern Military Techniques, Peaceful Coexistence, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Sunni Groups, Shia Groups, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Jafari

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*Photo Credit: Press TV

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