By Octavia Nasr
30 September 2014
If we ask Arabs what their favourite animal is, they are likely to choose the ostrich as it solves all its problems by simply burying its head in the sand!
As Arabs face their latest nightmare embarrassingly called the “Islamic” State, we must note the anatomy of the Arab reaction in the face of this enemy that says that it prays to the same god, quotes from the same holy book and seeks the same Caliphate goal only using different tactics and following a barbaric path.
Silence about Atrocities
First, there was silence about the atrocities committed by the recently infamous terror group. Perhaps because, as in the early days after 9/11, Arabs could not believe that such sophistication in killing could come out of their own people. This too was foreign to them; or so they claimed, totally ignoring the fact that violence and hatred are promoted openly in mosques, homes as in the streets. When the hatred is directed at non-Muslims, it is still hatred but somehow it is ignored, when it is not cheered or encouraged.
Then came the usual timid condemnation coupled with the empowerment of counter groups or ISIS itself. The conspiracy theorists as well as counter terrorism experts can weave a web of stories around who is funding ISIS and how it came to exist and grow. This makes the ways to fight them, dismantle them and wipe them out of existence also a matter of debate that can keep the media spinning with theories for decades or until a new topic dominates the headlines.
All this while they forget the fundamental truth that ISIS and its militants come from their midst. They come from Arab countries as well as from the West. They come from a life of privilege as well as a life of want. They are the highly educated as well as the dropouts. All these attributes make ISIS hard to pin down and extremely dangerous to fight. The airstrikes by bomber jets whether American, French, British or Emirati are simply a show of force with limited impact on a group that can morph back into society and hide until it is ready to strike again.
With no commitment to fight ISIS face to face and hunt them down in homes, mosques and fundamental forums, they will only hide temporarily and then choose the time and place to sneak out and terrorize just the same!
Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.