After the Paris attack, Western governments are trying to replace the term ‘Islamic State’ or ‘ISIS’ or ‘IS’ or ‘ISIL’ with the term ‘Daesh”, by using it in their official Twitter accounts and other official statements. It has two purposes, firstly, because ‘IS’ a terrorist organisation is behaving like a state, it’s very name expresses the intension and using this term evidently rejects that, secondly, the term ‘Daesh’ kinda irritates them because in their language it means ‘the one who sows sorrow’.
So henceforth I’ll be using the term Daesh and IS interchangeably.
After the Paris attack and the regular news about foreign fighters travelling to Iraq and Syria to join Daesh, it was hard to live without, at least knowing something solid about them, other than, the following facts,
1. It’s a terrorist organisation
2. It kills it’s hostages in a really terrifying way, (for example by beheading people using a “blunt” knife)
3. It’s based in Iraq and Syria (hence Islamic State of Iran and Syria)
4. It’s so called capital is in, “Raqqa”, Syria. Where journalist fear going and where if you are a spy or a member of the resistance, it’ll be very difficult to stay alive coz anyone could be Daesh spy and where people are killed the ‘Daesh way’ in the market area. Bla bla bla.
5. It’s leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (so I found out, that this name has no meaning, it’s a made up name, like ‘ladies washroom’ in the dictator. Hahahaha! For example, Osama bin Laden means, Osama son of Laden, but Abu Bakr’s case, al-Baghdadi means from Baghdad, and Abu Bakr doesn’t really mean anything meaningful. (I later found out that his real name is believed to be, Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai… Wooof). Peaople call him, Abu Dua.
6. It’s also the richest and the most organised terrorist group. They also have an audit of their income and expenditure!
More Trivial facts :
foreign fighters joining Daesh has increased from 12000 to 27000 in the past 18 months.
al-Qaeda has its own magazine called, Inspire
All these facts only gave me nightmares but I still didn’t know anything substantial about Daesh
So here we go,
Daesh was al-Qaeda in Iraq initially, in short AQI. After Osama’s death, such organisations decentralised and proliferated and are much stronger than before today. Before getting into the technicalities and politics, it has to be understood that, Daesh is not just a militant group, it’s an idea. Even if we are successfully able to destroy it’s military, it’ll certainly re-emerge until we destroy it’s idea.
The roots of Islamic State lies in the Islamic activism in the Middle East during th 1980s and the by-product of the war against Soviet Union in Afghanistan. This inspired a young Jordanian street thug, Abu Musaf al-Zarqawi to form his own group. He established himself as the leader during the 2003 US-led invasion in Iraq. He was kiled in 2006. His group struggled to regroup under US presence, but once US troops left, the same group regrouped and formed al-Qaeda affilated- Islamic State of Iraq.
The, ‘Arab Spring’ provided a fertile land for the growth of AQI, which was later overtaken by IS under the leadership of Abu Dua (Abu Bakra al-Baghdadi). Iraq is a shia majority society, while Syria is a sunni majority society. There was a sunni uprising in Syria which inspired the sunni in Iraq to fight for their political and economic rights. Such peaceful processions mutated into a military uprising.
Who is funding them and selling them weapons and ammunition?
The main financial support is provided by some rich people in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now why don’t we instead of air striking these areas (unde Daesh control), cut their financial and ammunition support from these countries? The answer lies in the fact that, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest purchaser of arms from the United States and you don’t kill the hen who lays golden eggs.
Why not air strike Daesh and finish them (at least)?
Daesh is a guerrilla organization and hece its hard to target them because their members are dispersed off. Air strkes cause more loss to civilian lives and property than killing terroists. Thus in the prsent case, air strinkes will not be effective unless it is well co-ordinated with an effective ground force.
Why are ‘Saudi Arabia and allies’ are interfering in another country’s business?
Because, they ( United States and Europe and their regional allies, Turkey, Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE) want Bashar al-Assad (President of Syria) to not be in power, when actually it’s very difficult to do that because he controlled thirteen out of fourteen Syria’s provincial capitals which were backed by Russia, Iran & Hezbullah. So as per logic, creating favourable atmosphere for Daesh will help the United States and friends to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. (but the same principle applies, if you train a snake to bite the enemy, don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you instead. )
Why do Saudi Arabia and Israel want to get rid of Assad?
Israel and Saudi Arabia have become close allies for the same purpose, – to get rid of Assad, Isreal for security reasons and Saudi Arabia for sectarian reasons. For Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Wahhabism. The alliance between Wahhabism and the House of Saud can be traced back to the 18th Century. But the key date for the development of jihadist movement as political players in 1979, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, when Ayatollah Khomeini turned Iran into a Shia theorcracy.
During the 1980s an allience was born among Saudi Aabia, Pakistan (more appropriately the Pakistani Army) and the USA, that has proved extraordinarily durable. It has been the main supporters of the American predominance in this region. But has also provided for a seed plot for Jihadist movement(s) out of which Osama’s al-Qaeda is only a strain. (excerpt from the book)
What is Free Syrian Army?
It’s an army of those men who initially served Bashar al-Assad, but left the Army for they refused to fire on the Syrian citizens. It also includes members of the opposition (of Assad government) who didn’t necessarily serve in the military. Instead, they formed their own ‘Free Syrian Army’ trained and financed by the United States to support the Syrian Revolution. It was also almost successful in overthrowing the Assad government, however, after the rise of Daesh the FSA had to fight on two fronts, i. e. the Assad government and Daesh. Hence, it’s operation didn’t succeed.
How come Iraq and Syria aren’t doing much to resist Daesh and outside influence?
Firstly, like Afghanistan where the local people welcomed Sharia law by Taliban to bring the society under control and cleanse it from foreign influence; the jihadist were welcomed by the local people for restoring law and order after the looting and banditry of the western backed Free Syrian Army.
Also, Syria is not a very coherent society (most societies aren’t), there already existed social and religious conflict. it faced 4 years of Drought before 2011; the cheap imports from Turkey destroyed its homegrown industries. The International Crisis Group states that, “there was an Islamic undercurrent to the uprising but it was not the main motivation behind the peaceful protests mutating into a military conflict”
There is high level of corruption in the Iraqi Army. The numerically superior and better equipped Iraq army got astonishingly defeated by the nominal few of Daesh; such was the level of corruption in the Iraqi Security Forces.
Why is Daesh not attacking the capital city, Baghdad if it is miitarily so superior?
There is this curious thing, which I’ve not been able to understand. But after Daesh having captured Fallujah which is about 40 miles from Baghdad hasn’t attacked it yet. This has two possibilities, either they aren’t capable of doing so or they don’t want to. it’s ironical that Daesh is able to attack different countires all over the world, but is not able to capture Baghdad?!
What is Turkey’s role in relation to Daesh?
Turkey shares it’s 560 mile border with Syria and most foreign jihadis have crossed Turkey on their way to Iraq and Syria. Why is Turkey letting such things happen? Because it has interests (advantages) of ISIS weakening Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Kurds. (such as?)
Is Russia backing Assad? If yes, why?
Yes, Russia and Iran are backing Assad. While it seems so that USA, Europe and it’s regional allies are (or were) supporting Daesh in order to get rid of Assad.
What benefit will Assad get after Paris attack?
Now, Daesh has the attention of the entire world community which is determined to get rid of it. It is beneficial for Assad because it’s immediate threat will be eliminated with the help of world community consensus. Paris attack has had the unintended result of bringing rival coalitions together.
What has UN Security Council has done about it?
It makes association with Daesh and al-Qaeda a criteria for sanctions including financial freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. Because evidently, it’s their financial and arms support which has made it powerful.
So presently the situation is, those who were wanted to get rid of Assad (US,Europe and their regional allies) can’t let that happen because f that happens it’ll create a political vaccume for the ‘Daesh’ to come to power (worst case scenario) and whether they like it or not, they have to shake hands with the opposition (rival allies) to get rid of the greater danger- Daesh. And it can be easily be concluded that , Daesh is a legitimate product of International politics.
I have used various authentic sources to be able to come up with this blog such as this book, ‘The Rise of Islamic State’ by Patrick Cockburn and several newspaper articles and discussions with my friends. Yet I feel, there is much more to be understood, so much more to be talked about and comprehended.
The author Patrick Cockburn is an Irish Journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for The Financial Times and presently The Independent. For the present work, the author is also the Winner of the 2014 Foreign Affairs and Journalist of the Year Award. ( http://www.independent.co.uk/author/patrick-cockburn )
The book is very straight forward, unbiased and the language is easy. However, it doesn’t provide a historical backgroud (which makes it difficult to comprehend for newbies like me ), and thus, if you are planning to read it, please go through history and contemporary International issues before hitting the ‘buy’ button.
I’d also like to bring it to your notice that being a War journalist is not an easy task. In fact the last couple of chapters of the book also briefly describes the same; it requires putting your life under risk time and again to be able to come up with truthful report, for which many have lost their lives. That’s not it, one also has to tackle false reporting by International News Channels, misinterpretation of complex information, etc.
I hope this was helpful.
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