Parliament is likely to vote soon on whether Britain should extend the scope of military engagement in Iraq to include ISIS positions in Syria.
I was disappointed with MPs that voted against bombing targets in Syria last year. At the time we needed to take decisive action to destroy ISIS and force Bashar al-Assad from power.
Since then things have become progressively worse and I no longer support air strikes in either Iraq or to an extension of scope that include targets in Syria.
ISIS is not a conventional organisation. Despite holding territory it does not have a state orientated organisational structure. Standard responses to its attacks, involving bombing of identified targets and infrastructure, will not eliminate the threat.
ISIS is an organisation centred around an ideology. It has adopted a franchise model that promotes its hate filled ideology through electronic communications to recruit and train people to its cause. They have absolute conviction in their beliefs. Set this in the context of a region that has collapsed politically and you have the perfect environment for this type of modern terrorist organisation to flourish.
To combat ISIS requires a multi-pronged approach covering at least 3 key areas:
- Tackle head-on the ideology that it promotes
- Provide a credible alternative for people in this region
- Apply appropriate military intervention to create and maintain safety in the region
Tackling the ideology
This has to come from the Muslim world which needs to counteract the ISIS interpretation of religious scripture. It its not just ISIS. Saudi Arabia is responsible for disseminating their particular brand of extremism for decades. Its time this was challenged as the Saudi’s have laid the theological groundwork for extremism to take root.
Provide a credible alternative
The people living in this region have lost hope. They feel despondent and feel there is no future direction for them. Despots have that effect on the people they terrorise. Then when the tyrant loses control the conditions are perfect for an ISIS to enter and give people a direction. People need hope and a stake in their future which can only come about when there is political, economic and social stability. This won’t happen without the active intervention and assistance of the Western world. We must place the dictatorships that rule over the Muslim world under intense and sustained pressure to step aside for a transition to a more just, transparent and fair society.
Whilst I don’t support the current military air strikes being carried out over Iraq and Syria I do accept the need for appropriate military pressure.
That would involve creating no-fly zones to stop civilian deaths from Assad’s forces. A presence of ground troops made up of mostly Sunni Arabs to take back territory controlled by ISIS and to create and maintain safe zones where a credible alternative can be built.