Tuesday, July 5, 2016
ISIS Loses Territory and Gains Power
As horrific as the ISIS-inspired or directed attacks have been in the West, most recently the wholesale execution of 49 innocents in Orlando, Florida, the bulk of such anger continues to focus on the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world. As the holy month of Ramadan, normally a time of peace and prayer, shuddered to a close, as ISIS’ hold on Fallujah slipped away, ISIS and ISIS sympathizers unleased an unprecedented pattern of wrath against innocent civilians in their universe. “The Islamic State issued a communique before Ramadan began imploring jihadists to ‘make it, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.’” USAToday.com, July 4th. No one could have contemplated how effective that message would become.
Ramadan 2016 saw an unbelievable litany of carnage, from Florida to Indonesia, from Kashmir to Iraq, from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh, Israel, Libya, Africa, Europe and the bloodbath at Istanbul’s international airport that killed 44. More than 600 killed during that holy month, the worst Ramadan ever. Particularly within ISIS sights: foreigners and Shiites (considered non-believers by the diabolically Sunni fundamentalist-ISIS). To understand the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, my October 20, 2015 Persians, Phoenicians and Arabs – Modern Consequences provides a short explanation of “why.”
On July 1, ISIS-inspired gunmen shamelessly invaded an upscale restaurant in Bangladesh’s capital (Dhaka), taking hostages, many of them foreigners. When the police force ended their counter-assault, 28 people lay dead. As the identities of the attackers were revealed, it appears that their number included scions of the educated upper classes, schooled at some of the best universities at home and abroad. ISIS issued this statement: “Let the people of the crusader countries know that there is no safety for them as long as their aircraft are killing Muslims," The victims didn’t have a chance.
Bangladesh had experienced a recent spate of fundamentalist attacks against outspoken secularists who were brutally hacked to death. Seemingly lackadaisical authorities finally mounted what seemed to be an out-of-control massive crackdown by arresting over 8,000 suspects with terrorist links. But clearly, ISIS was way ahead of anything Bangladeshi police could contemplate. Terror continued across the Islamic world.
Perhaps we are so jaded at the constant attacks in and around Baghdad, that the death-by-suicide-bombing explosions that litter the secondary headlines in the West finally grabbed our attention as a massive truck-bomb, planted on July 3rd near one of the city’s busiest marketplaces, took out at least a staggering 250 civilians, just as a smaller explosion in a suburban market killed one victim. Sunni-fundamentalist ISIS took credit for this massive assault (pictured above) on these Iraqi Shiite targets. Iraqi police were stymied at the scale of the assault.
With its eye on a global Sharia-law-based Sunni caliphate, ISIS is severely calculating in its efforts to destabilize its opponents. “… Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel, said he thinks the attacks will worsen, adding that ISIS' game plan is to generate instability… ‘They are trying to create enough chaos in Iraq itself so that the Iraqi forces will find it very difficult to actually take advantage of the forward momentum they have achieved because of their victory in Falluja and that is a very serious issue that the [Iraqi] al-Abadi administration is going to have to address.’
Attacks such as the one in Baghdad will drive a wedge between the government and the people, in particular Shiites…‘The wedge was already there, and it's fairly easy for them to exploit this,’ Leighton said.” CNN.com, July 4th. While Sunnis represent 20% of the Iraqi population, the majority Shiite (and fairly anti-Sunni) government in Baghdad is one of the reason ISIS – claiming to fight for Sunni rights – has grown so fast. Baghdad just executed 7 terrorists, with 3,000 more prisoners (many of whom are ISIS-driven) waiting on death row.
But ISIS has also made it clear that the Saudi monarchy, a bastion of ultra-conservative Wahhabi Sunnism, is also an enemy of their view of Islam. ISIS hates that the monarchy is the “protector” of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities in Islam. To underscore that position, it appears that ISIS probably fomented an series of suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia: “An attack [on July 4th] in the western city of Medina targeted security forces near Al-Haram al-Nabawi, a mosque built by the prophet Mohammed and one of the holiest in Islam. The attack took place during prayers and in the evening, when observing Muslims break the Ramadan fast [the end of Ramadan]… Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on the state-run al-Ekhbariya news channel that four security officers were killed and five others were wounded in the attack…
“Also [on July 4th], a suicide bomber blew himself up near a Shiite mosque in the eastern city of Qatif. A car bomb also exploded nearby, but no other deaths or injuries were immediately reported… Qatif sits on the Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia's expansive Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia is dominated by Sunnis but has a substantial Shiite population in the east. Resident Nasima al-Sada told the news agency AFP that ‘one bomber blew himself up near the mosque’ and that no bystanders were hurt.
“The Qatif blasts came hours after a suicide bomber struck near the U.S. consulate in the western city of Jiddah. The Saudi Interior Ministry said the Jiddah attacker detonated his suicide vest when security guards approached him near the parking lot of a hospital. Some cars were damaged but no injuries were reported.” USAtoday.com.
It’s interesting to see Western politicians propose “let’s end ISIS terrorism” with old world notions of attacking territory, bombing or employing other massive strikes against ISIS holdings, and extermination of this scourge against humanity with the vastness of our military power. What a rather complete misunderstanding of such extreme forms of religious vengeance and hostility!
As tempting as site-based attacks might be, even the most devastating attack on ISIS strongholds – which would have some of the most horrific rates of civilian casualties imaginable – the fight against strident and violent Islamic fundamentalism is a long, battle that must enlist the entire world’s attention… a whack-a-mole effort against a malevolent religious force that feeds on anti-Muslim sentiments, the relegation of immigrants from Muslim lands (and their children) to second class citizenship, and recruits accordingly.
Every anti-Islamic polemic, every Western leader who castigates immigrants because they came from Muslim states, seems to draw ISIS sympathizers out of the woodwork, persons who now feel the call to defend their faith and destroy those who denigrate Islamic beliefs. Instead of fostering true containment of ISIS toxicity, the misguided politicians inspire an entirely new “backlash” generation to “defend the faith.”
I’m Peter Dekom, and it is incredibly disheartening to watch ignorant political voices make a bad situation that much worse.