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ISIS: How Do We Stop Global Evil

30.09.2015 22:26

"Islamic State" terrorist group (ISIS) is one of the major threats to global security. From 2014 to 2015 its fighters seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. In addition, they have already penetrated into Europe and North Africa. According to various estimates, ISIS includes 50 to 200 thousand militants who control an area of 90 thousand square kilometers. What is this new player on the geopolitical field? To understand the complexity of the problem it is necessary to go back to recent history.

Historical roots of "Islamic state"

After the US occupation of Iraq in 2003 the situation there deteriorated severely. Sunnis began to get harassed once again - that which have been discontinued by the Americans in the past. This led them to concentrating at American troops' filtration points. In one of them, called camp "Bucca," the core of future ISIS leadership was formed.

A special place in its heart was occupied by a young confident man named Ibrahim bin Awwad Al-Badri Al-Samarrai (current ISIS leader - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi). He has a degree in theology of the Islamic University in Baghdad and is a member of the Arabian tribe of Quraish. It was also reported that al-Baghdadi descends directly from Prophet Muhammad. All this, according to "New Times"  columnist Ivan Yakovin, "gave him the necessary authority to resolve any conflict between prisoners than soon began to be used by Americans: they asked him to resolve potentially dangerous disputes, not only in "Bucca," but also in other camps, where they drove him."

The Americans no longer saw him as a potential threat and in 2004 he got released. They could not imagine that Ibrahim bin Awwad Al-Badri Al-Samarrai will soon take the title of "Imam of the Faithful" and "caliph Ibrahim." Moreover, Abu Bakr joined the local "Al-Qaeda" chapter, which operated since 2006 under the name of "Islamic State of Iraq", and in May 2010 became its leader.

Talks on cooperation between the "Islamic State of Iraq," the representatives of the banned Syrian Arab Republic "Baas" party and the former Iraqi military and intelligence personnel were held from 2008 to 2012. As a result former party leaders and Syrian and Iraqi officers joined the "Islamic State of Iraq." Then the prototype of the ISIS was formed.

In 2011 Abu Bakr' militants began to take active part in Syrian civil war. In 2013 it was decided to rename the grouping into "Islamic State of Iraq and  Levant" (ISIL). Back then conflict began between the Syrian "al-Qaeda" called "al-Nusra Front" and ISIL. In this regard, in 2014 the leader of "Al Qaeda" Ayman al-Zawahiri announced that his organization withdraws from ISIL.

Currently ISIS already took shape as an influential regional power center, it has several names. The Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee, included ISIS into the national list of terrorist organizations, gives the following names of this international caliphate: "Islamic State", "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria", "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant", "Islamic State of Iraq and Sham."

Leonid Medvedko, orientalist, Historical Sciences PhD, Academy of Natural Sciences, a member of the Writers' Union of Russia says that the word ISIL bears two names: Iraq and Levant. Thus the word "Levant" is of French origin, and refers to the Mediterranean region. Therefore, in his opinion, ISIL is a project to create a caliphate throughout the greater Middle East, including T unisia, Libya and Egypt, where ISIS troops invaded recently declaring the territory as their emirate.

Who else fights in Syria?

ISIS and clashes between its fighters and Bashar al-Assad's troops are currently the focus of all the attention paid to Syria. At the same time little is said about other terrorist groups. Consequently, it appears that in Syria there are only four warring parties - the government army, "moderate" opposition, ISIS and the Kurds. However, there are other groups which have major influence on the situation in the country:

Free Syrian Army (FSA), (Jaish al-Hurr). Numbers: about 45,000 people. Leader - Abdullah al-Bashir. Ideology: Islamism. Was formed in the summer of 2011 of deserters from the national armed forces of the Syrian military. It is located on the territory of the republic. FSA Southern front (about 30,000 militants) is limited to the territory of Deraa province, receives personnel and military-technical support from Jordan.

Many groups hide behind FSA's flag and call themselves "fighters for democracy" to obtain weapons from the West.

"Dzhabhat en Nusra". Numbers: about 10,000 people. Leader - Abu Muhammad al-Dzhulani. A cell of "al-Qaeda" in Syria. Ideology: Islamism and Salafism.

Established in 2012 with the support of the "Islamic State of Iraq." This fact was hidden by the leadership of the group, but later discovered after the arrival of the ISIS in Syria. Before "Islamic state" started acted it was "Dzhabhat en Nusra" that attracted the largest number of foreign fighters. Some of them returned home, where they have not ceased to engage in terrorism. For example, in the spring of 2015 in Belgium activity of a group of Chechens living there was suppressed. They planned a series of terrorist attacks, associated with "Dzhabhat Al-Nusra" and not ISIS. Thus there is a misconception that "Nusra" fights ISIS along with the entire civilized world. The only serious disagreement between the two groups is in their fight for the championship (and funding). When ISIS formally settled in Syria in 2013, the leader of "Dzhabhat Al-Nusra" refused to obey them and sworn to the ideological leader "of al-Qaeda," Ayman al-Zawahiri. At the end of 2014 "Nusra" and ISIS have entered a full-scale war.

Coalition "Islamic Front". Numbers: 70,000. Leader - Ahmed Abu Issa, Zahran Alloush. Ideology: Islamism and Salafism.

Created in 2013 from several influential radical groups. Currently, it includes a large number of foreigners fighting, including the citizens of Europe.

"Dzhunud al-Sham." The leader of the Abu Walid al-Shishani, a former Chechen fighter, who fought with Shamil Basayev.

It consists mainly of militants from North Caucasus, Turkey, German Muslims. Acts in the province of Latakia. In May 2014 attacked an Armenian-populated town of Kessab, which led to the death of a large number of its residents.

"Ansar al-Din." Group, made up mostly from Russian-speaking militants from North Caucasus and Central Asia.

What is the cause of ISIS?

Columnist of the "Vzglyad" newspaper, historian Peter Akopov believes that "the very emergence of a Caliphate is a response to US and EU invasion to the region." In his view, this policy has led to the intensification of existing conflicts started the process of "reformatting fragile and artificial, created by the West, but still existing boundaries of the Great Middle East."


As early as May 2013, US Senator John McCain visited Syria to provide advice to Free Syrian Army and other groups opposing the Syrian government troops. McCain met with the press secretary of the "Northern Storm" brigade Mohammad Noor, who kidnapped and held in Azaz 11 Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon. The meeting was attended by the head of the FSA Salem Idris and Ibrahim al-Badri, who in October 2014 was listed as the most dangerous terrorist wanted by the United States. He was also included in the lists of the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations as a member of "al-Qaeda". A month before the meeting with McCain al-Badri created the ISIS, while remaining at FSA general staff. Again, double standards...

 NATO operations in Iraq and Libya, multilateral (including military-technical) support of the so-called "moderate opposition" in Syria by the US, and the subsequent reign of chaos in the region have created favorable social-economic conditions for ISIS takeover. The Islamic State is a concentrated response to "neo-colonialism" policy, carried out by the West in a number of states recently. Akopov believes that it is "the biggest challenge thrown to the whole world system - and especially to the West with its plan for globalization."

Libyan political columnist Mustafa Fetouri is convinced that the "Islamic State" is a collective consequence of "invasion, destruction and occupation of Iraq" under false pretenses by a group of countries led by the US. He believes that, rather than admit their mistakes, the US and UK repeat them in Syria, supporting terrorist groups' subversive activities, including that of "al-Qaeda". According to him, Washington and London carried out such policy in Libya in 2011. The destruction of the two countries led to further strengthening of international terrorism. As a result, "Boko Haram" (Nigeria), "Caucasus Emirate" (Russia), "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan" (Central Asia), "Ansar Beit al-Maqdis" (Egypt), the individual units of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan also joined ISIS. Close cooperation has been established with the "Al-Shabab" group (Africa).

What is ISIS' goal and how are they planning to achieve it?

Currently, the "Islamic State" is not only a terrorist group, but also a quasi-state (Islamists exercise governmental functions on the occupied territories). ISIS "authorities" announced their participation in "the final battle between the forces of good and evil" in the territory of Sham (Syria), the desire to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate and destroy Israel.

 However, ISIS' real goal is to strengthen itself as an independent military-political and economic center of power in the region. Expert Leonid Medvedko believes that the Caliphate aims to expand its borders on Afghanistan and Pakistan (the latter possesses nuclear weapons).

ISIS authorities are committed to the following objectives to help achieve their main goal:

seizure of settlements and selective application of ultra-conservative Islamic norms on such territories; seizure of military infrastructure, replenishing military arsenal;

seizure or taxation of enterprises, social facilities, energy infrastructure and financial institutions; attracting supporters from the West, CIS countries and the Far East for direct participation in hostilities, performing auxiliary tasks, conducting propaganda and informational warfare;

committing major terrorist acts on the territory of opposing states;

networking and collaboration with terrorist groups operating outside ISIS'  area of influence.

"Islamic state" and its features

ISIS has a clear structure and strong core personnel, allowing them to perform assigned tasks consequentially.

ISIS consists of the following elements:

central management, leader - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Awwad Ibrahim Ali Al-Badri Al-Samarai);

zonal management body in Iraq, leader - Abu Muslim al-Turkmani;

zonal management body in Syria, head - Abu Ali al-Anbar.

Caliph advisers coordinate provincial governors' activities of the so-called "Islamic state" in Iraq and Syria.

In addition, there is a coordination management IG: administrative, military, control over the observance of the rule of law, security, intelligence, financial, and security.

A significant part of ISIS leadership is occupied by ethnic Turkmen, former officers of the Iraqi Army (Sunni), members of the "Baas" party, and  citizens of other Gulf States.

Director of the Center for Middle East and Central Asia Study Semen Bagdasarov argues that the core of the "Islamic State" are former Iraqi and Pakistani soldiers.

The social composition of ISIS is mixed

Authorities: representatives of wealthy local families, Iraqi army officers, members of "Baas" from Iraq and Syria, field commanders are people from groups of poor local population and foreign countries.

Fighter: representatives of both wealthy segments of the population, mostly from the Gulf and the lower social groups, mainly from the CIS and the Caucasus, children of immigrants who came from the Middle East to Europe;

Staff: local people cooperating with ISIS (entrepreneurs and former government officials).

ISIS' establishment as an independent player in the region is due to a number of reasons and its specific features. ISIS' success attracts new supporters both from local residents and immigrants from the CIS countries and the West, especially the second-generation Muslim immigrants. Contradictions among ISIS opponents (the government of Syria, the Syrian opposition and the Iraqi security forces) also strongly contribute to its strengthening. In addition ISIS is not faced with cross-border obstacles (military operations are conducted on Syrian and Iraqi territory, the terrorists are trained and treated in Turkey, Jordan and Israel).

ISIS' ability to conduct informational warfare and propaganda focused both on inner and external audience is of particular importance in its development as a strong regional player. The goal is attracting new supporters. Massive propaganda efforts have provided the group with a possibility to impose their points of view. Thus media mostly use ISIS activities or statements as informational causes when describing this crisis.

The situation on ISIS occupied territories

Occupied territories show appearance of compliance with Islamic law. Captured infrastructure is being restored (prisoners and local residents are actively involved in reconstruction), food and other essentials' distribution is underway. Prohibition of leaving the occupied territory works for both fighters and local residents. Non-Muslims are being strictly oppressed.

On occupied territories urban city charter is administered, which defines the rules and penalties:

chopping off of hands for theft;

obligatory daily prayer (five times a day);

ban on carrying arms and flags not containing ISIS symbols;

all crypts and tombs, recognized pagan, are to be destroyed;

clothing for women is determined, hiding a woman's figure.

The judiciary is the Sharia Court. Executive - the police force. Mass intimidation of population is the norm. In the city of Manbij (Syria), representatives of the executive power by the decision of the Sharia Court cut off the hands of four city residents, convicted of theft. Public execution are not uncommon.

Position of the West

Washington and the West in general claim that they realize the seriousness of ISIS threat to the world. According to the head of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, about 500 thousand refugees came to EU since the beginning of 2015, and under their guise were also individual members of the "Islamic state." In turn, US officials consider ISIS as a threat to their national security. Therefore, the US declared their support for all the forces opposing ISIS. However, in reality Washington cannot ensure the coordination of international efforts in view of the differences between the allies in the region (Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia). In addition, American administration's system error lies in trying to use the anti-terrorist rhetoric to justify intentions to overthrow Bashar al-Assad by supporting his opposition.

In the fight against "Islamic state" the West has bid on air operations. French and UK Air Forces have already attacked ISIS positions. However, according to the experts, such a policy does not lead to expected results. In particular, Semen Bagdasarov said that airstrikes do not cause significant damage to ISIS, as the insurgents were able to adapt to constant aerial bombing. Firstly, they disperse forces joining together in large groups only to deliver a decisive blow. Secondly, they have adopted the principle of decentralization of the management system, creating numerous unrelated command posts. Third, the terrorists only occasionally use cell phones, which can be discovered by special means. Fourth, they are actively using masking, models simulating buildings and facilities, such as command posts.

In addition, says Semyon Bagdasarov, constant air strikes lead to an increase in the number of refugees who leave for countries neighboring Syria, as well as for Europe. The total number of internally displaced Syrians in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon is estimated at 8-10 million. And many of them tend to get into prosperous Europe in search of a better and secure life, which greatly exacerbates social tensions in the EU.

Thus, the effectiveness Western struggle against ISIS is quite low. This situation, however, has an explanation.

Project "ISIS" and oil markets gamble

According to some experts, ISIS is a tool used to create tensions in countries with a resource base for oil, pipeline or liquefied natural gas deliveries to world markets, primarily in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Instability, in turn, affects the pricing.

By destabilizing the military-political situation in specific countries -suppliers of hydrocarbons, US increase energy prices. All but pro-American partners - Saudi Arabia and Qatar - are taken out of the game.

Thus, with the help of its allies, Washington can fully control the price formation on the world's oil markets. Moreover, the US administration has the ability to regulate individual countries' need for energy resources. Therefore, these countries follow the White House policy.

Syria, where ISIS is mostly active is a vivid example of this destructive course. By blowing up the situation in this country, where a large deposit of natural gas has been discovered, the US government seeks to curb Moscow, not allowing her to lead in "swap" operations (when Syrian gas would be transported to neighboring countries via Russian contracts).

It is also noteworthy that ISIS profits from oil sales at 10 dollars per barrel (profit up to 200 million dollars per year), which allows them to speculate on world markets that in turn benefits US oil companies.

In addition to the geopolitical there is a purely economic reason for ISIS'  appearance. Therefore, United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries' coalition against ISIS, is in doubt.

Position of the regional countries

Global media analysis allows us to estimate the position of a number of countries toward the "Islamic state."

So, despite the fact that the Syrian government is positioning itself as a major force opposing ISIS, Damascus is not trying to regain control of the territory seized by "Islamic state", provoking clashes between the Caliphate and other opposing groups.

In fact, fragmented Iraq is unable to adequately resist the "Islamic state", which became an independent player in some parts of the country.

Iran has sent to a division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and military advisers to train Syrian troops, supply equipment and weapons.

Lebanese movement "Hezbollah" took part in the fighting on the side of the government of Syria, and acts together with Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Jordan provides assistance to Western-backed moderate opposition. Egypt, faced with the threat of ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, is trying to establish military cooperation with Syria.

The fighters of the Palestinian Fatah movement entered into an armed confrontation with ISIS for control of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in the vicinity of Damascus, Hamas faces the threat of ISIS in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, confident in its ability to confront terrorists, is trying to benefit from the clashes between ISIS, moderate opposition and other parties of the conflict.

Turkey uses fight with ISIS to strike against the PKK in Iraq, as well as to strengthen military cooperation with US. Thus Ankara does not prevent the penetration of militants across the border with Syria.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and Qatar are double-dealing. They are financing ISIS, and the subjects of this two states (especially Saudi Arabia) occupy senior positions in the administrative structures of the group. At the same time the armed forces of Saudi Arabia and Qatar take part in air strikes on ISIS positions as part of US-led coalition.

Russia's position

Moscow is interested in the real destruction of the ISIS. After all, this terrorist group now hosts a large number of fighters from Caucasus and Central Asia. In Tajikistan, there are more than 400 people, and several hundred fighters in the Caucasus were trained in Syria. According to some reports, Russia recruited thousands of potential ISIS militants, who have been trained in Syria. Therefore, Russia's strategy in combating is ISIS aimed at countering internal security threats ("Caucasus Emirate") and preventing the spread of "Islamic state" influence on post-Soviet space.

On September 4, 2015 the Russian President said that Moscow has been working to form an international coalition against terrorism. An expert in the field of international security problems, Nikolai Khorunzhiy believes that this initiative comes personally from Putin, who has a successful experience of peacemaking in the Middle East, which is widely acknowledgeв by Western experts. For example, chemical weapons withdrawal that satisfied both Syria and the United States was seen in the West as a "diplomatic triumph for the Kremlin." Also Moscow has played a key role in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.

On September 13, 2015 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted in the "Sunday Times" program: "Our American partners were initially either very uncareful when creating a coalition, or conspired to in such a way that the real goals were not as stated. The Coalition was created very spontaneously: in just a few days it was announced that it includes a number of countries, and immediately the air-strikes began. Analyzing coalition bombing results creates a strange impression. Sometimes it seems that in addition to the stated purpose of "combating Islamic state" - there is something else coalition's agenda. I don't want to disappoint anyone, telling you that some of our colleagues from the coalition countries say that they sometimes have information on exact ISIS' positions, and the coalition commander (of course from US) does not give his consent. I do not want to draw any conclusions - you never know what information, evaluations and higher considerations are on the commander's mind - but such signals are received."

Perhaps Lavrov keeps diplomatically silent about the fact that for Washington it is most important to change Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, as well as further strengthening of chaos in this Arab republic to further weaken its rival - Europe, which is already barely coping with the influx of refugees. Of course, there are also purely economic interests connected with the desire to control energy resources in the region.

The humanitarian aspect of international law

ISIS' use terror tactics has led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. A mass migration of Syrian, Iraqi and other regional countries' population to Europe took place. The population of those Arab countries is actually deprived of human rights such as the right to live, security of person and home, freedom of conscience and religion, of movement and choice of residence, prohibition of forced labor, and finally, individual dignity.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights data on September 3, 2015, all Syrians are victims of crimes against humanity in this armed conflict. It is emphasized that it is the civilian population suffers most.

More than seven million Syrians are internally displaced; about four million were forced to flee to neighboring countries and Europe. There, they often become victims of human-trafficking. This raises the question of human rights for all people affected by the conflict: migrants, internally displaced and refugees.

From international law's point of view the legal basis for a serious fight against ISIS was the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution number 2199 (February 12, 2015). The document condemns participation in direct or indirect trade of oil products for the benefit of "Islamic state" and provides for the blocking of financial assets and economic resources of the group. In addition, ISIS is condemned for the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria. UN expressed determination to prevent kidnapping and hostage-taking. According to the decision of the Security Council, the participant-states must prevent supplying arms to the caliphate. However, as UN Secretary General stated earlier, "the international community must do even more."

The "Islamic State", which rapidly grew on the basis of a cynical military policy of certain Western countries, and primarily the United States, really became a threat to the whole world. Moreover, ISIS contributed to even greater turbulence in the unstable world economy and European crisis intensification. Obviously, you the Caliphate can only be stopped, with the participation of all global key players, who have to abandon geopolitical ambitions and stereotypes of "cold war". Otherwise, the ISIS will continue conquering the world.

Only a broad international coalition, which Vladimir Putin called for to the establishment of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, would be able to destroy the new world evil. Otherwise, it will continue conquering the world.