By Amer Ali –
David Kilgullen, an Australian expert on counterinsurgency and military strategy, after surveying the fifteen-year vicissitudes of the so called War on Terror was more than candid when he concluded his latest book, Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of War on Terror, Black Inc., UK, 2016, with the following words: “No amount of high-tech weaponry will help, because the problem isn’t one of technology or intellect, but of character and will, and the harsh reality is that you can’t win without fighting. The Islamic State understands that; so do the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Do we?”
The IS attack on Brussels is the latest of that criminal state’s destructive agenda and once again IS has succeeded in distracting the Western powers to spend their time, resources and energy in upgrading and tightening domestic security while continuing with their half-hearted measures to fight IS on its own turf.
The main target of IS is not Europe or America, UK or Australia but Iraq and Syria, two countries that have fallen into the hands of the Shiah who are only fifteen per cent of world Muslim population. The political implications of this sectarian dynamics in the Middle East are largely being forgotten in the current debates over War on Terrorism.
Photo – The three men captured on CCTV camera at Brussels airport, who are believed to have been identified, and went on to carry out the attacks
When the British created Iraq from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire they deliberately installed in 1921 a Sunni Muslim, King Faisal, to rule over the Shia majority – just as they chose a Hindu to rule over the Muslim majority Kashmir in India in 1846. Sunni rule over the Shia majority continued in Iraq until it was reversed after the U.S. invasion in 2003 and subsequent withdrawal in 2007-8. IS is now fighting to bring Iraq back under Sunni rule.
Similarly in post-independence Ba’athist Syria, the Alawites, a Shia minority is ruling over the majority Sunnis under the leadership of the Assad family. IS wants that too to be reversed.
IS’ suicide bombers are busy killing hundreds of Iraqi and Syrian civilians but that somehow fails to capture the same intensity of attention from the world media as killings in Europe do. Is European blood more precious than non-European?
IS is not alone in this anti-Shia battle. There are other terrorist outfits like the al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram and several more. While the media and Western leaders are too ready to condemn these terror enterprises they don’t seem to do the same about the ideological and financial backers of the anti-Shia armada.
Saudi Arabia in particular and its other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council namely, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and U.A.E which are all authoritarian monarchies and staunch allies of the U.S. see in the rise of IS a powerful weapon to counter the ascendancy of Iran, the Persian Safavid enemy. The combined Shia power of Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah will, in the view of GCC, encourage the Shia in oil-rich Eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and oil-less Yemen to rise in revolt against the Sunni regimes. This inner fear drives them to support IS sometimes overtly but always covertly so long as IS does not threaten the existence of these regimes. That IS is capable of destabilising these regimes, is never in doubt.
The Saudi Wahhabi/Salafi ultra-conservatism is the umbilical cord that links the various terrorist outfits. This ideology is the most dangerous export from Saudi Arabia that is winning many adherents in the West and recruits fighters to IS. The social media campaign by IS cannot win recruits instantaneously unless there are people whose hearts and minds have already been won over by a radical ideology. Wahhabism/Salafism does this very effectively. It is a losing strategy for the Western powers to respond to the military threat of IS while ignoring the sources of its militant ideology. How can the U.S. ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ IS without condemning the ideological and material support that IS receives from GCC?
IS is the product of Western geopolitical blunders. Had Bush and Blair to start with and Sarkozy and Cameron to follow not destroyed, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya IS would not have come into existence. IS is now an inconvenient reality. IS is dictating the terms of this war and through its diversionary tactics is deciding when to fight and where to fight.
Kilgullen’s words quoted at the beginning highlights the chilling predicament of the West. Without a firm resolve to confront IS and its supporters directly and with ample resources Brussels will not be the last theatre of death and destruction in Europe.