Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Is the West Playing Into ISIS's Hands?

Many fundamentals Christians want a war in the Middle East because passages in the Bible are claimed to predict that Christ will return after Armageddon.  The fact that they love to see non-Christians and most Jews slaughtered in the process is only icing on the cake for them.  The Koran has an equally dark prophecy, except the victors will be followers of Islam after defeating invading armies from the West.  Thus, once again poisonous "holy books" set the blue print for death and destruction, with each side falsely claiming that God or Allah is on their side.   An article in the New York Times looks at how those in the West who want to send ground troops to the Middle East could be aiding ISIS's propaganda war and setting the stage for the recruitment of more followers who will be manipulated by evil religious prophecies.  Of course, Donald Trump's declaration of war on Muslims will only further this cause and perhaps radicalize American Muslims.  When religion is involved, generally logic, reason and decency are the first things to be thrown overboard.  Here are article highlights:
As the debate on how best to contain the Islamic State continues to rage in Western capitals, the militants themselves have made one point patently clear: They want the United States and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.
In fact, when the United States first invaded Iraq, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the move was the man who founded the terrorist cell that would one day become the Islamic State, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He excitedly called the Americans’ 2003 intervention “the Blessed Invasion.”

His reaction — ignored by some, and dismissed as rhetoric by others — points to one of the core beliefs motivating the terrorist group now holding large stretches of Iraq and Syria: The group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region.
Should that invasion happen, the Islamic State not only would be able to declare its prophecy fulfilled, but could also turn the occurrence into a new recruiting drive at the very moment the terrorist group appears to be losing volunteers.

It is partly that theory that President Obama referred to in his speech on Sunday, when he said the United States should pursue a “sustainable victory” that involves airstrikes and supports local forces battling the Islamic State rather than sending a new generation of American soldiers into a ground offensive.

“I have said it repeatedly: Because of these prophecies, going in on the ground would be the worst trap to fall into. They want troops on the ground. Because they have already envisioned it,” said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, and the author of “Apocalypse in Islam,” one of the main scholarly texts exploring the scripture that the militants base their ideology on.

“It’s a very powerful and emotional narrative. It gives the potential recruit and the actual fighters the feeling that not only are they part of the elite, they are also part of the final battle.”

Terrorism experts say it has become a powerful recruiting tool for the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which sells potential fighters on the promise that joining will give them the most direct chance to battle Western interests and will bring ancient Islamic prophecies to fruition.

The specific scripture they are referring to describes a battle in Dabiq as well as in al-Amaq, small towns that still exist in northern Syria. The countdown to the apocalypse begins once the “Romans” — a term that militants have now conveniently expanded to include Americans and their allies — set foot in Dabiq.

Regardless of a ground intervention’s potential to succeed, some veteran analysts caution that the act of invasion would play handily into the group’s prophetic vision.

“To break the dynamic, you have to debunk the prophecy,” Mr. Filiu said. “You need to do so via a military defeat, like taking over Raqqa. But it needs to be by local forces — by Sunni Arabs.”

The effort has been limited by the fact that the only viable partners so far have been Kurdish militias, who are willing to fight only in a ribbon of land in northern Syria, which is predominantly Kurdish. . . . To date, the United States and its partners have failed to find a Sunni Arab partner force.

Proponents of a ground assault argue that an even bigger recruiting drive than the militants’ end-of-times prophecy is their promise of an Islamic state.
Two take aways, in my view: (i) religion is always ultimately an evil that seeks division and hatred of "non-believers" and (ii) many in America continue to want to perpetuate the blunders of Bush/Cheney who set the stage for the current ongoing nightmare through hubris and disregard for the local culture and religious factions.

No comments: