ISIS Provokes Terror in Iraq and Syria
by Trevor Hopkins on Friday, October 3rd, 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, has dramatically expanded its reach in the two Middle Eastern countries these past few months. Even Al Qaeda, a former affiliate of ISIS, cut ties with its Iraqi associates after pronouncing that the other terrorist organization had grown too extreme. Over the summer, ISIS not only massacred thousands of innocent civilians, including committing genocide on the Yazidi people of Iraq, but also executed two American journalists and one British soldier in videos that sparked outrage across the world. Now, dozens of countries across the globe, including the US, the UK, and several Middle-Eastern states, must decide how best to deal with the self-proclaimed caliphate–Islamic state–ISIS reigns over in Iraq. A growing threat not only to national security but to stability across the world, ISIS must be curbed before their reach expands beyond Iraq and Syria and into zones of peace.
According to the Pew Research Center on June 12, 2014, 50% of Americans believe that sending the military to Iraq the first time around was a mistake, as compared to the 38% who believe it was not. With the far-reaching effects of the war including the US’s fall into debt and our increasing animosity with several Middle-Eastern countries, many Americans do not want to send troops into yet another–what they view as impossible–war. While President Obama stated in his speech on September 10th that no “boots on the ground” would re-enter Iraq, he later deployed 475 soldiers to go to Iraq, raising the total number of soldiers in the country to 1,600. In addition, the US launched a series of air strikes after they announced a new strategy to “degrade and destroy” the group. The UK, France, and several other countries will supply bases, surveillance, and military support to the US in their efforts to fight ISIS.
Even though our military should not enter Syria or Iraq because absolutely no one wants a repeat of the Iraq War, the US, as host to 330 million of the world’s citizens, must help those who have been severely wronged by ISIS. The Yazidis, a Kurdish ethnic group from Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, have as much a right to live and prosper as any other people in the world; ISIS, whatever it may think, does not have the authority to commit genocide, to claim part of Iraq and declare it a new caliphate, or to spread graphic videos of beheadings across social media. They may try to terrorize the rest of the world, but as long as the anti-ISIS coalition remains united, there is no reason why ISIS should win the fight for power in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS’s presence in Syria has also damaged chances that other, more moderate rebel militias will take power from Assad at the end of the long civil war. Amid “reports of a supposed deal between the opposition forces and ISIS,” that the opposition has fervently denied, Assad’s supporters say that the US supports international terrorism by aiding the rebels and, by extension, ISIS. With the lack of cohesion among the many rebel armies in Syria, a possible end to the US aid given to rebels for fear of ISIS, and the increasingly bleak outlook for the civil war, ISIS could also affect the resolution to this civil war: if neither Assad nor the rebel militias seize power, then ISIS will be able to add parts of Syria to its nascent state.
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant signals a turning point for the future of the US in the Middle-East and the future peace and stability of the entire region. While Obama should refrain from sending more troops into Iraq and further angering many Americans, he should also develop a more concrete plan to deal with ISIS. The situation can go one of two ways: the US and many other countries band together to fight ISIS with their collected resources, creating, in the process, stronger alliances and destroying ISIS for good. However, if countries choose not to take this opportunity to strengthen their ties, one day we may end up with a new country in the Middle-East: an Islamic caliphate.
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