Obama Facing Dilemma for Making Final Decision on ISIS

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ardeshir Zarei Ghanavati
Expert on International Relations & Foreign Policy

The government of US President Barack Obama is hardly working to adopt a new strategy on how to fight the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group in order to alleviate pressures put on his administration by domestic and foreign critics. At present, the White House is well aware of the failure of its past plans for fighting this fundamentalist terrorist group in Iraq and Syria with recent advances of ISIL in both countries being evidence to the failure of those plans. Therefore, Washington has no choice, but to revise its past strategy in this regard. The decision to dispatch about 450 fresh military advisors by the United States to set up several training camps in various parts of the Iraqi battlefield, especially in Anbar Province, has been taken as an answer to this situation. At the same time, a “change in strategy,” should be something more than occasional measures or “quantitative” changes in the size of the military force. Such a change must include a basic revision in large-scale political and security decisions in order to formulate new operational frameworks.

Also, to the contrary of what many analysts and politicians, especially the critics of Obama at the US Congress, believe, any change in the US strategy more than being about dispatching the US ground forces to Iraq, should be a basic change in the quality of this issue. In political terms, the decision-makers should reach a new understanding and a more logical recognition of the threat posed by the Islamic State, regional stability, and new regional relations on the basis of the position of political actors in various countries and at regional level. For this reason, before anything else, a new war strategy must first define the nature of the crisis and determine gravitational center of the anti-terror fight. Such a strategy must also determine primary and secondary forces in enemy and allies fronts and, most importantly, explain the relationship between developments on the ground in the battle field, as well as the geopolitical arrangements and goals in the Middle East region which is actually the geographical domain of the anti-terror war. Therefore, as long as Washington’s strategic policies toward the causes of the emergence of ISIS and forces that strengthen it are not formulated correctly, any solution which would include dispatch of forcers or intensification of aerial attacks against this group will be limited to mere tactical changes and will not be able to solve the fundamental issue and create a basic change which may pave the way for the eradication of this dangerous phenomenon.

The experience of past few months has clearly proven that increasing the size of the military forces that are fighting against ISIS can only lead to a change in the territories that this group has occupied without delineating a clear practical outlook for the termination of this crisis. Under these conditions, a new strategy should firstly pay attention to the nature of this phenomenon and determine the main forces that bolster it in order to plan a multilateral containment plan. The virus of ISIL and fundamentalism, which shows itself in the form of various terrorist groups, has spread in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa because behind the scenes, there are major powers in the region that are clearly and practically supporting it and providing it with logistic requirements.

ISIS has been born out of a historical claim which is embedded in political and social relations of this political and geographical domain, and has entered the political game by taking advantage of the existing ethnic and religious rifts. It is also making the most of ethnic conflicts to pursue its geopolitical goals across the region. Under these conditions, the main principle for an external force with a claim to swaying global hegemony is to appear honest in fighting against fundamentalism, by avoiding double standards and not turning a blind eye to the measures taken by ISIS’ regional allies which are backing this destructive force that aims to disrupt regional and global stability. As a result, with the same seriousness that it engages ISIS in battle, the United States must block all support lines of this group in the regional geopolitical domain. Unfortunately and in the most optimistic analysis, one can only claim that the main problem that Washington faces in waging a real war against ISIS and such terrorist groups as al-Nusra front, Jaish al-Fatah, and Ahrar ash-Sham, is the mistaken regional policy of Obama administration, which is not willing to deal with regional allies of such terrorist groups, including the axis of conservative regional states like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The Obama administration and US intelligence community are well aware that ISIS is backed by many Arab countries in addition to Turkey, which on the false excuse of the war between Sunnis and Shias, are using such groups as a tool to reserve the course of the democratization in regional societies and continue their catastrophic rivalry for swaying hegemony on the region. This grey shade and raging proxy wars in the geopolitical domain of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa had originally paved the way for the fundamentalist groups that finally provided necessary grounds for ISIS and al-Nusra Front to make their appearance and expand their territorial grasp.

Geopolitical adventurism in this regions and instrumental use of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorism has not only failed to create new balances among rival countries, but has also turned these groups into the third side of conflicts that are pushing the Middle East and the Horn of Africa toward a full-blown catastrophe. Under these conditions, Washington can only talk about a new and efficient strategy for fighting ISIS if it pays attention to the nature of the crisis and gives up its double standards for dividing terrorism into moderate and extremist groups, and countries into hostile and allied states. The experiences of past years, especially developments that have taken place during recent years in the fight between the US government and ISIS terrorist group, clearly show that the United States is still stalled by the mentality that was rife during jihadist wars in Afghanistan. As a result, Washington has so far failed to show a serious determination for giving up its ongoing destructive strategy. When Washington accepted that there is no such thing as good and bad terrorism and reached the conclusion that such terrorist groups must be fought against at any place regardless of their geopolitical position and irrespective of the relations that exist between the United States and countries supporting them, then one could have hope to see the promising light at the end of the tunnel.

Key Words: Barack Obama, Dilemma, Final Decision, ISIS, US Congress, Regional Stability, Political Actors, Fundamentalism, Al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Fatah, Ahrar ash-Sham, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Middle East, Horn of Africa, Zarei Ghanavati

Source: Shargh Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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