BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
June 19, 2014
The Arab uprising led to the emergence of a new wave of insurgency. There are new groups in places like Libya, where affiliate of Al Qaeda Ansar al- Sharia is responsible for the killing in Benghazi of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Nigeria is under the attack of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab is making its mark known in Kenya just as it continues to terrorize Somalia, until the AU, drove the group out in September 2012. The focus is now on Iraq, where the Islāmic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS, is waging a ferocious war on the Shia led government as part of its determination to establish an Islāmic caliphate.
No doubt that current movements in Africa and rest of the world, originated from Al Qaeda. Islamists brained washed into believing that a duty exists to defend Islam through terror and intimidation, are taking up positions and evolving to follow the legacy of the 9/11 attacks. Same ideology inspired ISIS to incite a sectarian conflict in defense of Islam and creation of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Amid the crisis, opposition in the U.S. Senate is blaming the Obama administration for what it calls a “quick withdrawal” of American troops from Iraq. This is despite the fact that majority of Americans support troops withdrawal and the Iraqi government wanted U.S. troops out, after series of attacks indicating Iraqis no longer welcome a foreign force in their country. Those who blame Obama for the crisis in Iraq seem oblivious of the fact that many U.S. servicemen and women lost their lives in Iraq. It is inconceivable for U.S. forces to remain in perpetuity when the host nation has exercised its right to dissociate militarily in the name of peace and hatred for U.S. forces.
By having American troops stay in Iraq will not bring peace to the nation. Majority of Sunnis believe the current Shia led government of Nuri Al- Maliki, was part of U.S. strategy to set up a Shiite leadership in Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein a Sunni. Likewise, the creation of a Shia-Sunni unity government as proposed by those who support the idea, won’t be the only solution to the conflict in Iraq.
The fact is terrorism has become a job. Terror networks around the globe guided by Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been able to spread radical Islam, not only within the Arab world but also to the West, Africa, Asia and the United States. Participants now see terror as a source of employment nonetheless, its religious basis and believe in Jihad. Campaign of terror has created income for Jihadists who now depend on it to put food on the table and support their families.
There are now cases of American youths traveling to Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan to train for Jihad. The situation is same in the West as youths from the United Kingdom and other European nations are joining insurgent groups. Many have traveled to Somalia to train for Jihad and then return to attack their homeland while they proclaim Islam as religion of choice for the West. As long as those youths remain idle and accessible for recruit, the global counterterrorism strategy, will fail to have a positive effect.
It is clear the war on terror is both a global and permanent war. Al Qaeda has been able to breed and the only way to curb the worldwide insurgency is to address its root cause. To have a successful counterterrorism approach will need cooperation and strong will among nations to end the spread of terror, its ability to recruit and the kind of threat pose by terror leaders like Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, head of ISIS and mastermind of the insurgency in Iraq and Syria.
There is no need for American boots on the ground to end the ongoing crisis in Iraq, such a move is a recipe for disaster and could lead to loss of more American lives. ISIS does not understand the language of diplomacy and any attempt to negotiate with a group with no other agenda than to incite violence between Sunnis and Shiites would be a waste of time and resources. To end the ongoing threat by ISIS, the U.S. must support the Iraqi government by providing airstrikes to deter ISIS ability to overtake Iraqi cities including the seat of government in Baghdad. It must do exactly what it did in Libya, working together with other nations to give air support.
While the U.S. does not want to deal with Iran, this is a perfect opportunity to reach some form of consensus on a way forward in Iraq. Iran has the resources and ability to provide ground troops the U.S. is unwilling to commit. Moreover, Iranian troops would have the legitimacy Iraqis are unwilling to afford American forces seen as foreign invaders. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are well-trained and properly equipped with counterterrorism strategy. With air support from the U.S. and Iranian ground troops fighting along with Iraqi government forces, the Iraqi leadership would have what it needs to suppress ISIS and avert a possible takeover.
In the eyes of the world Assad of Syria has lost legitimacy but as terrible as it may sound, the U.S. must now hope that the Syrian government keep up the fight with ISIS in Syria, to limit the group’s concentration on the invasion of Iraq. If Assad loses the fight and Syria falls to ISIS, the terror group would become stronger and capable of inflicting the greatest damage on Iraq and its people.
Though, a unified Sunni Shia government is not the only solution to the crisis in Iraq, Nuri al- Maliki must begin a power sharing process that would restore confidence through concession of real power to Kurds and Sunni factions. The idea that Nuri al-Maliki should resign as some are calling for will do more harm than good to the fragile situation. Iraq is a sovereign nation and if any need to replace the Prime Minister, such decision must be in the hands of the Iraqi people. A forceful removal would anger Shiites and lead to more sectarian conflict.
To contain terror globally, the Palestinian question must be addressed; it is a war that has gone on for decades. Muslims around the world believe the U.S. and the West lean too much to the side of Israel. The belief is that America and its allies have conspired to deny Palestinians of their homeland. The conflict has outlived many American Presidents as each administration came and left without any productive impact on the conflict. As long as the Palestinian question remains unresolved, Hamas and other groups in the region will continue to recruit to end the occupation
The world should focus on Yemen and the Obama administration must continue the current counterterrorism program in the nation. There are aspects of the Yemeni counterterrorism approach that is a model of what U.S. counterterrorism community should be doing. The United States should invest in trainings that will make Yemen capable of fighting the spread of terror within its borders. The lesson from 9/11 showed that when a terror group has a home and able to convene without obstruction, it is capable of orchestrating deadly attacks of the highest magnitude. By denying terror harbor will minimize the ability to regroup and recruit for deadly attacks.
Attention must be on North Africa as a way to track the spread of Al Qaeda allies across the region. Nigeria needs help to fight Boko Haram to reduce its spread. Failure of the global community especially the U.S. to focus attention on the Nigerian case could be catastrophic in the long run. The recruit of the Nigerian born underwear bomber was a wake up call. Boko Haram is becoming too deadly to handle and unless a proactive approach is used to support the Nigerian government, it won’t be long before the group becomes a recruiting machine for a new campaign of terror. Terrorism and incessant insurgency is a threat to global security. However, with a proactive and proper counterterrorism approach, coupled with strong will among nations, global security may once again be guaranteed.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.