CHARLOTTE, NC, January 19, 2015 – New reports from the Middle East counter the Western perception that ISIS has been contained.
Meanwhile, homegrown jihadists appear to be infiltrating Europe en masse to such an extent that the continent could be in the early stages of “World War III.“
For the moment, the U.S. seems content to say that airstrikes have stopped the momentum of ISIS. That is hardly a comforting assessment. It is not unlike the Obama administration’s early responses to the economy when they claimed to “have created or saved X number of jobs.“
While the ISIS movement appears to have been halted in Iraq, Syria poses different problems and the Islamic State is said to be continuing a growing offensive in that country.
Over the past several months, American jets have hit Syria with nearly 800 airstrikes, but reports from the region say that ISIS does not appear to have lost any ground there.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that ISIS has apparently increased the number of people it controls, even if the territorial gains have been diminished. For the time being, that is not a positive endorsement for the Western strategy.
According to The Daily Beast, Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS) spokesman Mouaz Moustafa said that ISIS is gaining territory due to a lack of “strategic coordination between coalition strikes and moderate forces inside Syria, meaning that the Free Syrian Army and aligned groups cannot use the strikes to retake territory.”
Further aggravating the situation is the U.S. military tactic of bombing the central core of ISIS rather than striking at the front lines where there would be a greater opportunity for pushing back Islamic advances.
As so frequently happens under Barack Obama’s leadership, it is difficult to obtain an accurate picture of what is really happening. Public reports say ISIS has been contained and that the airstrikes have proven to be the proper strategy.
“However (the U.S. military) often does this by conflating its war in Iraq and Syria,” writes The Daily Beast. “Ask a question about what is happening in Syria, and U.S. officials will stress that ISIS has not gained ground in Iraq. Ask if the U.S. effort is working in Syria, and the military often points to the fact that ISIS has failed to take control of Kobani.”
The corollary to that response is the claim that U.S. military emphasis is to rid Iraq of ISIS first and then go into Syria. That, of course, is doubletalk to cover the fact that, in the end, we are not achieving much of anything meaningful.
It appears that the president’s strategy, like his approach to so many other things, is to delay, delay, delay until his time in office eventually runs out and he can turn the problems over to the next administration.
Meanwhile, tensions in Europe are increasing in a wide swath of countries where newly trained radicals are returning to create havoc in their own homelands.
Since the Paris attacks three other European countries have been able to halt or minimize terror threats; Belgium, Germany and Greece.
Neither appeasement nor assimilation has worked in Europe. Over several decades, the continent turned a blind eye to the problem to such a degree that it must now wage internal wars to maintain its cultural heritage. That should be a message to the United States, but given the current administration’s inability to acknowledge the Islamic threat, the danger could loom on our shores sooner than expected.
ISIS has been clever in its strategy. On one hand, it has created a large Middle Eastern military force that understands the nuances of its own region. On the other, while those forces wage war internally, the Islamic State has also trained Western jihadists to return to their own countries and cause chaos in places where they have “local knowledge.”
In essence, ISIS is fighting a two-front war while the West struggles to determine who is the real enemy.
The battles will be long and difficult. For the West, time is measured in a 24/7 news cycle. Islamists, on the other hand, use a calendar. Their focus is perpetual and time is their biggest ally.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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