Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Before it changes the map

The international community must put up a united front against the Islamic State. (Source: Express photo by C R Sasikumar) The international community must put up a united front against the Islamic State. (Source: Express photo by C R Sasikumar)
Written by Chinmaya R Gharekhan | Posted: August 26, 2014 12:03 am

that appeals to Muslim youth across the world. All in all, the IS is a deadly entity and should be treated as such. The geographical map of the region has already changed and will change further. The boundary between Iraq and Syria has been obliterated for all practical purposes, with IS fighters operating freely on both sides. Indeed, the capital of this Islamic state is in Raqqa in Syria. It has also captured at least one village in Lebanon. It will no doubt manage to add to the instability in Jordan. If Jordan gets infected, can Saudi Arabia remain immune for long? The Kurds, who have been denied their own independent state since the end of World War I, might be a big beneficiary and may finally get an internationally recognised country of their own. Iraq will remain fragmented in three distinct regions. This is a new kind of domino, except that it is more likely to succeed than the domino theory touted by the US in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was trying to justify its war in Vietnam.

It is possible and even probable, that the IS will be weakened and eventually destroyed by its internal contradictions, rivalries and intrigues, but we should not count on it and it will in any case take a while. In the meantime, it would be worthwhile for the global community to help the IS along that route. At the moment, it is only America, with token help from some of its Western allies, which is leading the campaign against the IS. Its motives for doing so are not relevant for the main goal. It is true that Washington became concerned when the Christian minority of Iraq and its personnel were threatened. Another reason could be oil. Yet another factor is protection of the Kurds and Kurdistan, which America regards as a trusted ally. The US itself claims to be motivated by humanitarian considerations. It would be uncharitable to be utterly cynical about this claim, but it is probably only one of the reasons for the military strikes against the IS. The US regards the threat posed by the IS serious enough to implicitly welcome assistance from Iran — the country regarded by Israel as its enemy — in the common struggle against these terrorists, and is actively considering collaborating, albeit indirectly, with another unsavoury character, President Assad of Syria.

It would not be prudent for us in India to assume that the IS is far removed from India and that we need not be concerned. In this globalised world, terrorists are the most connected force. Already there are reports that the IS websites carry exhortative material in Urdu, Tamil and other Indian languages.

The impact of such propaganda must not be underestimated. Though the Muslim community is well integrated into the mainstream, we are still communally a fragile society, as evidenced by some recent events. There will certainly not be a largescale participation by our Muslim youth, but even half a dozen converts continued…

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