A Global Threat with a Local Solution
Tacoma Community College
This paper was prepared for English 101, Section 3611, taught by Professor Fox.
The Islamic State
A Global Threat with a Local Solution
The streets are empty and the people are afraid. In the Middle East, they all know its seditious rhetoric and fanaticism. Neil Macdonald (2014) suggests that President Obama underestimated ISIS when he derisively compared them to a “junior varsity team, playing out if its league” (p. 1). Now, only nine months and a handful of public beheadings of Americans later, the West is nervous. Pictures of the black ISIS flag flying throughout Iraq and Syria have engulfed the media, and governments around the globe are under pressure to contrive an aggressive response to its atrocious tactics. This academic essay evaluates the overall threat ISIS poses to the world and the potential roles of major regions by responding to the following questions:
1. Who is ISIS, and why are they a threat?
2. What role should Middle East countries play in the fight against ISIS?
3. What role should the United States play in the fighting ISIS?
The Islamic State has become a legitimate threat to Middle Eastern countries and may soon require action from the West.
Who Is ISIS, and Why Are They a Threat? The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is a jihadist militant group with a radical, Sunni-focused interpretation of Islam. Its main goal is to destroy the Iraqi and Syrian government and form a hardline Sunni Islamic state. With a strategy centered on inflicting terror in enemies and gaining global recruits, ISIS has become exceptionally adroit in its psychological operations. “The group operates a sophisticated propaganda machine with slick production techniques,” explains the Canadian Press (2014), “using social media to broadcast a stream of battles, bombings, and beheadings to a global audience” (p. 1). These broadcasts are reaching recruits from a generation raised in the social media era, where life has become a series of tweets and postings. Such individuals are often disconnected from society, yet they remain connected to the world through their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. ISIS has undoubtedly used its tech savvy to successfully recruit fighters from the region and around the globe. In terms of quantifying the threat, Andre Mayer (2014) suggests that “ISIS fighters number in the tens of thousands” (p. 1). ISIS is far from invincible in military terms; however, this ‘junior varsity’ team has overrun a number of pivotal towns and cities in eastern Syria and Northern Iraq in the past few months alone. That is why the Islamic State is being treated with extreme vigilance by Western and Arab countries – and why this could be the beginning of another long, difficult, and gory crisis in the Middle East.
What role should Middle East countries play in the fight against ISIS? The most immediate threat that the Islamic State poses is in the Middle East, and the fight requires an extensive union of countries. “Given sectarian divisions and individual self-interest, argues Jamie Tarabay (2014), “forging a meaningful coalition with other countries in the region will be very difficult” (p. 1). The problem is that regional forces all see threats other than ISIS. Not everyone shares the same perceptions; there are no unanimous enemies. Mayer (2014) summarizes that the Gulf States see Iran as a threat, the Turks are worried about everyone supplying the Kurds, and both the Gulf States and the Turks consider Syria a threat (p. 1). While a unified coalition seems unlikely in the region, each country must take its own course of action to fight ISIS. Turkey has failed to seal its border with Syria, which has allowed the continuation of oil shipments to the group. The Turks are reluctant of blowback from attacking ISIS or doing anything that would benefit Assad’s regime (another group