During his election campaign, President, Obama had promised to the American people that if elected, he would pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. This was perhaps what a war wary nation wanted. He has stuck to this promise and the last of the troops are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
With large territories of Iraq and Syria under its control and well equipped with tanks and guns, captured from fleeing Iraqi troops, ISIS has been well poised to take on Iraqi troops and Syrian rebels.
Going by this commitment Obama has so far declined to commit ground troops to combat this fresh threat which in the form of an altogether new radical group, more sinister than any of the earlier ones, known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) under a leader by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has emerged in Iraq and Syria and controls large tracts of territory in these two countries.
Genesis for the rise of this group, and the general turmoil in the Middle East, to an extent, lies in the instability that has been brought about by supporting efforts at regime change in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. This has been attempted when democratic institutions have no historical roots in these countries. Henry Kissinger in his latest book ,’ World Order’ contends that,‘ by throwing out the ‘Westphalian system, ‘ and forsaking the principal of respect for sovereignty and letting idealism overwhelm realism, wasn’t such a good idea after all.’
Dislodging the regime in Iraq and replacing it with one that failed in its dispensation between Shi’ite , Kurds etc and Sunni population in a fair manner resulted in revolt on the part of Sunni population. The induction of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi was expected to win back the confidence of Iraq’s Sunni sect, but so far he has not gained much traction in this direction. Though some Sunni tribes, have joined this fight against ISIS.
Attempt at regime change in Syria did not fructify and Hillary Clinton in her latest book has criticized Obama administration for not adequately arming the Syrian rebels to complete the task of ousting President Bashar Assad.
With large territories of Iraq and Syria under its control and well equipped with tanks and guns, captured from fleeing Iraqi troops, ISIS has been well poised to take on Iraqi troops and Syrian rebels. Excesses of ISIS against Kurds and Shi’ite etc population in areas under its control has compelled tens of thousands to flee into Turkey, and other neighbouring countries.
…military experts are of the view that restricting action to only air strikes will not foot the bill.
Though initially Obama administration and the Senate wanted to restrict bombing only to ISIS targets in Iraqi territory but as of now targets in Syria, too are being engaged. This became essential so as to deny safe havens for ammunition dumps, other war like stores and command and control set-up. As also to target some terrorist groups who as per intelligence reports are planning to attack targets in America.
Though the international laws and the United Nations conventions do not permit going to the aid of a country, in this form, without request for the same from that country. However America has advanced the alibi that this is for defence of Iraq to which it has a commitment. Anyhow this action on the part of America and others has the portents of widening the range and scope of this conflict. It were the untiring efforts of John Kerry, Secretary of State, that brought on board, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirate to join in these air strikes. Though on their own, these regimes are alive to the dangers this radical group poses to them. Efforts are also afoot to block the flow of funds to ISIS.
However military experts are of the view that restricting action to only air strikes will not foot the bill. Infact General Martin E Dempsey, Joint Chief of Staff, told Senate that he would recommend, deploying troops to render ground forces, fighting ISIS, tactical and targeting advise, incase, the current air strikes do not succeed. It needs to be borne in mind that air strikes, carry the risk of collateral damage in way of excessive civilian casualties and this would antagonize more people against America.
Even if ISIS is defeated, its elements will find refuge in other countries and in our case would be useful for Pakistan to deploy them in J&K.
At their own, Iraqi troops and Syrian rebels have not proved equal to the task of defeating ISIS in ground operations. Eventually America may have to commit ground troops to completely wipe out ISIS. Though there has been the view in America that it should suitably arm and train, Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels, with support from Iran and some other countries and leave them to deal with the problem on their own. America has the record of leaving such jobs unfinished and leaving behind, instability. It is matter of time before Afghanistan again slips into the hands of Talibans: assisted by Pakistan. Getting Iran on board has the risk of it re-embarking on its nuclear programme.
The conflict in this region is not going to be resolved any time soon and the fight against these new forces is one of long haul and may end up with greater instability. Developments in the Middle East directly impact India in various ways. Besides Muslims from Western countries, large numbers from India too have joined ISIS and they will have their own agenda, to put to use experience gained with that extreme jihadist outfit. Even if ISIS is defeated, its elements will find refuge in other countries and in our case would be useful for Pakistan to deploy them in J and K.
The kind of government put together in Afghanistan is not likely to last long. President Hamid Karzai is already voicing his concern at the instability America has created in Afghanistan. The training that Americans have imparted to Iraqi and Afghan troops falls much short of the standards required to fight highly motivated jihadist groups operating in these countries. The loyalty of many Afghan troops remains suspect. It is only a matter of time, before Talibans, duly supported by Pakistan reassert themselves in Afghanistan. Karzai’s praise of assistance rendered by India to that country is not likely to go well with Pakistan, and will give greater impetus to the latter to support Talibans in regaining control over Afghanistan.
As it is, terrorists from some of the Middle Eastern countries have been operating in J and K in the past. If one is to add the sinister nature of the developing situation in this region and the likelihood of India ( J and K ) being one of the destinations of jehadi elements, as they spill over from this region, the need for maintaining state of high alert becomes essential. Those who have joined ISIS will have to be kept under strict watch as they return to this country.