Gen Mirza Aslam Beg

Sunday, November 09, 2014 – The British analyst Alastair Crooks is wrong in saying that: “There is really almost nothing that the West can do about it (DÂESH), but sit and watch.” Whereas it is the West, whose primary responsibility is to develop a strategy and a new approach, to deal with the growing phenomenon of Dâesh, because West itself is the catalyst, as NoamChomsky rightly says: “The appearance of ISIS and the general spread of radical Jihadism is a fairly natural outgrowth of Washington wielding its sledgehammer at the fragile Muslim societies. The situation is a disaster for the US, and a natural result of its invasions. One of the grim consequences of US-UK aggression was to inflame sectarian conflicts that are now tearing Iraq and Syria to shreds, and have spread over the whole region with awful consequences.”

The brutalities of ‘shock and awe’ committed on Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Ghaza, drew the ‘hate-line’ of frustration, despair and revenge and the consequential growth of resistance by Taliban, Dâesh, Hizbullah and Hammas. The world organizations and the Security Council remained almost passive spectators of brutalities committed on the Muslim Societies. Therefore, the West just cannot sit and watch. It has the responsibility to find “proper response, with balming effect, and not the bombings” which have caused such chaos, death and destruction to the Muslims of the world.

Dâesh comprises three elements mainly – the Iraqis, Syrians and Saudis. The Iraqi group consists of Saddam’s disbanded army, supported by Iraqi Sunnis. They are the strongest of the three, being well trained and possess enough military hardware captured from the Iraqi military (INA). Their commander is Izzat Ibrahimi, and the target is Iraqi regime. Ideologically they are close to Salafi school of thought. Their strength is estimated at 50,000 – 60,000. The Syrian group consists of The Syrian Opposition Army and the Moderate Opposition of Syria, who were trained and equipped by US and Sunni countries of the region, against the Syrian regime, now have joined Dâesh, yet their primary target is the Syrian regime. Ideologically they are close to Salafis. Their strength is estimated at 30,000 – 40,000. The Saudi Group consists of the Wahabi dissidents, who oppose the Saudi regime, “because the Saudi government has modernized / westernized and has drifted away from the puritan ways of the Wahabis”. “Their real potential for destruction lies – in the implosion of Saudi Arabia.” Alastair Crooks. There is a constant flow of Saudi dissidents, joining the group. The strength of the group, commanded by Khoshgi is estimated 8,000–10,000.

These three components form the coalition under Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, who has declared himself Caliph. His primary aim is to establish the Islamic State over the territories, which once were part of the Ottoman Empire, but in 1920 were divided into several countries. Dâesh’s main asset is the perennial source of Jihadi volunteers, pouring-in from “eighty countries of the world. – UN.” Thus, Dâesh poses threat to the three regimes mainly and a lesser degree of threat to other Muslim countries. The threat to the regional states could be as serious as described here: “Gulf will never be the same again and the Middle East will be un-recognizable, as the new Sunni State – is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony, drawn by Dâesh Salafi ideology.” (Alastair Crooke).

Beyond the Islamic State region, the Dâesh threat is likely to emerge in two forms. One may be the repeat of Afghan jihad fall-out. After the defeat of the Soviets, “the 60,000 jihadis who had come from seventy countries of the world – CIA” went back to their homelands except those who were considered dangerous and were not allowed to return. They became non-citizens of the world, like Al-Qaeda and others, and still continue to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa and the Middle East. Something similar may happen in case of Dâesh also, as the Jihadis from USA, UK, Europe and other countries, start returning home, and there should be no bar on such returnees, because at home, they can be kept under watch. The ‘ideological threat’ to Muslim countries will be limited, because countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, follow the “Dêobandi, Barelvi, Maliki, Qadria and Naqshbandi order, and are opposed to Dâesh ideology.

The world at large seems to have no viable option to deal with Dâesh. Air strikes and Kurd re-enforcements are weak responses and will prove counter productive. Therefore, it would be better to look at the problem dispassionately. The Dâesh are, attempting to correct the wrong done in 1920” and want to establish the Islamic State of the Levant. To grant them this right, is an option. Nearer at home, in Afghanistan the Taliban are trying to correct the ‘wrong done in 1979 and 2001. To grant them the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, is an option, because the ground realities suggest that, with American forces leaving, the Taliban would prevail. The Afghan National Army (ANA) cannot stand-up against them:

“The ANA hide from battle. It cannot lead or fight at night. Soldiers refuse to fight, and hide behind rocks and among trees. I am sure, when the Americans leave, Afghan Army will scatter like leaves in the stiff breeze. There are no illusions about the consequences of ANA.” Maj. Gen. Robert Seals, Green Beret, USA, Washington Times, 26 October, 2014.

The West has to accept these realities and correct the course, by looking deeper into the “heart of the matter”, i.e. “abandoning the politico-ideological crusade” which aims to transform the Muslim societies into liberal/secular and modern entities, “who prefer an order that favours individual autonomy and marginalized God. Not God first but We first, whereas Muslims believe that human existence should be a God created human order.” – New York Times. Simply stated: “leave the Muslims alone” – the policy Chinese follow in dealing with the world beyond their borders.

The Muslim societies, during the last fourteen hundred years have learnt to assimilate all such elements. Pakistan is a perfect example of a moderate Muslim Society, living peacefully with all schools of religious thought such as, Kharji, Takfiri, Salfi, Wahabi, Qadri, Naqshbandi, Dêobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Sunni. But unfortunately the “political-ideological crusade” has debased the very face of the moderate Muslim society of Pakistan. The West has to accept the reality and correct the course, for the good of the humanity.

— The writer is Ex-Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan.