Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terror In France & The Threat Posed By ISIS

I mourn the loss of life in Paris from the deadly terrorist attacks, and think that it's really time to dismantle ISIS' influence in the Middle East. I expect that the French will find whomever ordered this attack and make targeted strikes at them, but I don't think that will be the end of the ongoing threat ISIS poses.

In order to deal with the threat known as ISIS, you need to attack the roots of its terrorism at their source. ISIS thrives on Sunni discontent and disenfranchisement from being under Shi'ite rule, but that's not the only factor. Other factors include one of the driest decades in the Middle East (the 2000s) and a gross mismanagement of natural resources (as was the case with the Assad regime in Syria), and regional ambitions of other state actors in the area (particularly Saudi Arabia who seeks to impose its interpretation of Islam on the region and eventually the world). The latter factor is possibly the most prominent, as Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals for influencing the direction of Islam and the Middle East as a whole. However, it should be noted that it falls on everyone, but especially the Middle Eastern nations to start creating political and economic opportunities for their people. This also means that everyone needs to get together to close the power vacuum opened up by the Syrian Civil War through a political settlement.

How this relates to France comes as follows. France was a colonial power in the Middle East from 1919-46, colonizing both Syria and Lebanon. Many Arabs had openly opposed this arrangement after they were promised independence by joining the Allied Powers against the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, and in time, Saudi Arabia would come to openly oppose the arrangement as well.

Even after the period of colonial rule in the Middle East, France was still a major player. First in the form of its alliance with Israel, and then as a major arms supplier to the various Arab states. Additionally, France had opened up economic relations in other fields with the various Arab states. A commonly accepted epithet at the time was that if someone was an Islamist, they wouldn't attack France. The reason was often that France often opposed American/British-led military efforts in the region and was the only NATO member not part of the overall command structure. That changed when Nicolas Sarkozy became President in 2007, when he requested French re-entrance into NATO's command structure and a softer policy toward the Americans. This in turn led to a full revamping of French foreign relations in the Middle East, especially where France became more critical of some of its Arab partners. These actions have made France a target, especially now with its Islamic population attempting to gain their rights and citizenship.

The threat posed by ISIS on France and the world at-large comes from its desire to establish a global caliphate and bring the world back to the Middle Ages. To be very clear, their view of Islam (they're primarily Wahabists, an ultra-orthodox sect of Sunni Islam) and the need to wage jihad in order to achieve their caliphate is not the view of most Muslims. They are a cancer to the faith by calling for the deaths of people labled as apostates (primarily Shi'ites) or non-believers. In addition to their previously stated ambitions, they're also seeking to obtain all material necessary to construct a nuclear device of their own or to buy them outright. Having this happen would be the ultimate disaster, as they're planning to smuggle 1 to set off here in America. The fact still remains that while we should mourn the loss of life in Paris, we should be vigilant about keeping a close eye on ISIS and disrupt any and all attempts to do us harm as well.

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