Will we ever learn? Isis and the West


Paul Rogers, writing for Opendemocracy.net, provides a clear analysis of the evolution of ISIS and the western worlds’ failure to find a way out of the trap cast by ISIS (“ISIS’s plan, and the west’s trap”, Opendemocracy.net, 27 November, 2015). Tactics employed by ISIS have continued to change but the West has failed to adapt, thus giving more power to these Islamic extremists.

ISIS’s new version kept the long-term aim of creating a worldwide caliphate. But from 2011, circumstances in Syria (after the start of the Arab awakening) and Iraq (after the American withdrawal) allowed for the rapid creation of an actual proto-caliphate. ISIS was therefore much more focused on territory, and won considerable success in the effort. This eventually resulted in a US-led coalition mounting a strong reaction in the shape of the air-war that started in August 2014: Operation Inherent Resolve.

Moreover, a significant change in ISIS tactics has occurred. It now combines holding territory with operating overseas in a manner reminiscent of al-Qaida’s approach of a decade ago. In the past year ISIS has sought to make stronger connections with Islamist paramilitaries in several countries – including Libya, southern Russia, Yemen and Afghanistan – and bring them under its own banner. It is also promoting direct attacks elsewhere: among them two attacks in Tunisia (Tunis’s Bardo museum and Sousse’s beach resort), the destructionof a Russian tourist jet over Sinai, and bombings in Beirut and Paris.

There are almost certain to be more, not least as ISIS is reported to have established an organised wing of the movement with this specific aim (see Eric Schmitt, “Paris Attacks and Other Assaults Seen as Evidence of a Shift by ISIS”, New York Times, 23 November 2015). The plan has three purposes:

* to demonstrate power and capability, including to supplant what remains of the support for al-Qaida

* to incite as much Islamophobia and community conflict as possible, especially in France and Britain

* to provoke an even more intense war from the west, ideally involving western ground-troops.

What is frankly amazing is that the same mistakes are being made, and that western leaders are falling into the same traps. There is no recognition at all that ISIS is intent on provoking an expanded war, that this is what it is going to get, and that its leadership will be well satisfied with its achievements.”

Read the full post here: “ISIS’s plan, and the west’s trap” (Opendemocracy.net, 27 November, 2015)

Photo credit: U.S. AirForce

Tags: Afghanistan, al-Qaida, Britain, France, Iraq, ISIL, ISIS, Islamaphobia, Libya, OpenDemocracy, Operation Inherent Resolve, Paris attacks, Paul Rogers, Russia, Syria, US-led coalition, War, Yemen