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Islam and the West ( 9 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Strategy, Not Slogans, To Beat IS: New Age Islam’s Selection From World Press, 10 December 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

December 10, 2015

 

Strategy, not slogans, to beat IS

By Harlan Ullman

Clash of civilisations

By Ali Malik

Hope for Libya

By Express TribuneEditorial

 

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Strategy, not slogans, to beat IS

By Harlan Ullman

December 10, 2015

Today marks the 74th anniversary of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. That attack was designed to shock and awe an isolationist US into an early-negotiated peace treaty after its Pacific Fleet battleships were sunk or put out of action by the Imperial Japanese Navy giving Japan free license to expand its East Asian co-prosperity sphere as far as it liked. But the outcome was not the one expected by the military dictatorship in Tokyo.

In fighting Islamic State (IS), President Barack Obama’s strategy has been roundly criticised from many directions. In reality, Mr Obama is confusing the slogan “to degrade and destroy” with a real strategy in which aims and means are closely aligned, coordinated and reinforce each other. In that regard, as the attack on Pearl Harbor failed to make the Pacific war very brief, so too will the Obama strategy fail to defeat IS on the current trajectory.

Instead of a viable strategy, the Obama plan is a series of tactical actions that while seemingly sensible individually and in theory are not coordinated with an overarching framework to ensure success. In World War II, that framework was to win in the Atlantic first, hold in the Pacific until more resources became available and mobilise the US’ “arsenal of democracy” to out produce and overwhelm the enemy with tanks, ships, planes, artillery and all the sinews of war in concert with dedicated allies, including the Soviet Union.

Any war college graduate can easily draft three or four strategic constructs for defeating and destroying IS. First is a major ground and air offensive against the territories controlled and occupied by IS in Syria, Iraq and Libya if needed. To succeed, especially since the occupation in Syria could last decades in transitioning to some degree of order and stability, that force would have to be largely Arab and Sunni.

The second is a strategy of containment. The assumptions here are that fielding a sufficiently large enough ground force is impossible until the regional states actually regard IS as an existential threat and are prepared and willing to act accordingly. The current anti-IS coalition of 65 states would focus on stopping the flow of money and foreign fighters in and out of IS territory, and taking on the responsibility of countering the IS propaganda and ideological messaging. Air and drone strikes would continue but on a lower level of effort as the aim is to contain with the expectation IS would ultimately implode.

A third strategy relies entirely on Iran and Russia to defeat IS in Syria and by default adapting as a sub-strategy elements of containment. Clearly, no guarantees can ensure either Russia and Iran would actually focus engagement on IS. Hence, a further sub-element must be convincing both that IS is the principle enemy. And, of course, the downside of expanding Russian and Iranian influence would have to be minimised especially throughout the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) where Iran is regarded as the existential threat, not IS. The corollary is a US withdrawal from this fight.

A further strategy that could be incorporated into the others is to create a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement that, almost certainly, will be long-term. For those who think this is mission impossible, until 1979 and the overthrow of the Shah, Saudi Arabia and Iran were part of the US’ two pillar strategy in the Gulf. Both states viewed the Soviet Union as the greater, potentially existential threat. Indeed, the concept of a Sunni-Shia war was confined to a few academic historians of Islam and few non-Muslims were even aware of the two sects.

The Obama administration is trapped between options one and two. It exercises the strongest rhetoric repeatedly acknowledging that IS can only be destroyed by ground forces. Yet, in practice, it does not follow through with sufficiently tough actions and emulates what can be best termed a Containment Plus approach.

As Japan could not change course after Pearl Harbour, Mr Obama seems determined to make only minor tactical alterations to the rules of engagement for expanding air and drone strikes, adding handfuls of special forces for kill and capture missions, and increasing the intensity of air operations. But unless or until Iraqi ground forces can eject IS from Mosul, Ramadi and elsewhere, and Kurdish forces assault and occupy Raqqa for the long-term, the best likely outcome is a stalemate.

It is tragic that the inflexibility of the White House is matched by the absence of any better options offered by aspirants for the presidency from both parties.

Harlan Ullman is chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business and senior advisor at Washington DC’s Atlantic Council. His latest book, due out this fall, is A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of an Archduke a Century Ago Still Menaces Peace Today

dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/10-Dec-2015/strategy-not-slogans-to-beat-is

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Clash of civilisations

By Ali Malik

December 10, 2015

President Obama has refuted Mr Trump categorically while, cautiously and indirectly, urging Muslims to do more to improve their standing in western perception. Prominent Republican leader and speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, made it an exception to condemn Mr Trump’s assertions

This week I was all set to write on the recent local bodies’ elections and their implications on the future politics of Pakistan. However, in the aftermath of the Paris attack and San Bernardino mass shooting incident, the world is changing in a direction much feared at a much faster pace. And that has forced me to shelve the local bodies’ election for a week. First, Islamic State (IS) carried out the Paris attacks. Then came the San Bernardino attack in the US. And in response to them came the extremist, hardline response from elements within Europe and the US. Most alarming of these responses has been from the Republican Party’s front-running candidate for president, Donald Trump, who has called on the US to ban the entry of all Muslims into the US indefinitely.

If that is not enough, in Europe, the far right is gaining ground in countries like Poland in the east and France in the west. If Mr Trump’s rhetoric is anything to go by, things seem to be heading in a direction where Muslims in the west are all set to be in the 21st century where Jews were in the early 20th century: segregated, singled out and persecuted. There are voices of moderation within the west that are trying to fight this xenophobia. President Obama has refuted Mr Trump categorically while, cautiously and indirectly, urging Muslims to do more to improve their standing in western perception. Prominent Republican leader and speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, made it an exception to condemn Mr Trump’s assertions. In France, President Hollande is determined to see through French commitment to accommodate the agreed quota of Syrian refugees despite strong opposition from Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front and other rightwing elements. Western leaders on the right, centre and left have been unanimous in opposing Mr Trump on this mad assertion. The issue, however, remains in balance in the west owing to the sensitive nature of the issue and the ever-looming threat of Islamist terrorism inciting fear among the western public. In this, one can just hope that the voices of moderation in the west succeed in blocking the eminence of a situation similar to the precursor of horrible anti-Semitic persecution in the last century for Muslims in the west.

That said, the response in Pakistan of many quarters is equally disturbing. The conspiracy theory spin mill went into full swing spreading denial. On social media one sees many posts by reasonably educated and sane people portraying the incidents as false or some western conspiracy to malign Muslims. When Tashfeen Malik’s (one of the San Bernardino attackers) Pakistani roots were discovered, they first went into full swing denying she had a Pakistan ID card. The National Database and Regulation Authority’s (NADRA’s) records indicated that the spin had to change. It is indicative of a broader delusional mindset to be in denial of the problems brewing at home. One does not need to dig deep to figure out how the unchecked religious preaching environment is radicalising the youth here. Go to a mosque and hear the Friday or early morning sermons and you will hear the radicalised message, not only against the west but also against other sects, often. Many a teacher at school and Islamic Studies’ professors at colleges and universities indulge in talk that borders on radicalisation. And then there are lecture circuits, of mostly the educated and well off, where the discussion turns to elements that are radical and xenophobic. Not only that but patronisation of such ideologies by the state’s organs is widespread thanks to the penetration of like-minded elements into various segments of the state machinery.

One wonders if the denial stems from the fact that most propagating such conspiracy theorist, apologist thoughts actually adhere to this radicalised, extremist mindset deep down or whether it stems from an identity crisis in an atmosphere of confusion where one is trying to retain the comfort zone way of living while at the same time desiring to earn in euros or dollars in a globalised economy. For those in denial, if you intend to choose the side of radicalisation, choose it rather than being in denial. For this delusional denial is crippling society and its narrative to complete decay. Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, fence sitting is not going to be an option any longer. Either one has to adhere to comfort zone living ideals or will have to embrace globalisation and integration. If you are going to choose radicalisation and xenophobia, the economic and social repercussions will pinch hard. In the case of Muslims, mostly living in under-developed economies, the pinch will be felt instantaneously. And if the wealthy west chooses xenophobia the repercussions may be felt a little later but will be there. Modes of communication have pushed our world to integration and there is no turning back.

The clash of civilisations in some ways depends on whether we buy into it or not. But, in the end, even if, God forbid, such a full-scale clash occurs, those who come out of it will be those who will be inclusive. It is time to shun and fight xenophobia wherever you are in the world. There are more things that bind us humans than those that divide us.

Ali Malik can be reached on twitter at @aalimalik

dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/10-Dec-2015/clash-of-civilisations

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Hope for Libya

By Express TribuneEditorial

December 10, 2015

The Arab spring is one of the great misnomers of our time. Whatever may have been triggered by events in Tunisia, it was most certainly not anything spring-like, and the term is a Western construct rather than anything produced by those directly involved in this rolling debacle. Libya, once in the grip of Colonel Gaddafi and now in the grip of a broth of feuding warlords and terrorist groups that find its chaos a supportive and sustaining environment, is having yet another attempt to resolve the unresolvable. There are two parliaments, two governments, one of them internationally recognised and the other not. A spokesman for the (unrecognised) General National Congress (GNC) said on December 6 that an agreement had been reached which requires the ratification of the rival parliaments. The (recognised) House of Representatives and the GNC had been in discussion for several days, and the hope is that within a fortnight, Libya’s chronic instability and riven political landscape will be healed.

Assuming the parliaments ratify the agreement, it will lead to a rewriting of the Constitution and a new representative body to replace the dysfunctional ‘two parliament’ system. A new prime minister will be nominated within 15 days — all of which is a very tall order indeed. An alliance of extremist militias overran Tripoli in August 2014 and drove the elected government into exile in the east of the country. At stake are the vast natural resources, which were the engine of the Libyan economy. Also at stake is the stability of a large part of West Africa as states to the south have noted a sharp rise in terrorist activity since the fall of Tripoli. Libya has ‘infected’ other states in the region and is likely to continue to do so whether or not the parliamentary crisis is resolved in the near future. The European Union is concerned about the possibility of infiltration by Libyan jihadis of the migrant/refugee stream currently flowing inwards. We wish success to those brokering positive change, and hope as well for a true ‘Arab spring’ in the future.

tribune.com.pk/story/1007071/hope-for-libya/

URL: http://newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/strategy,-not-slogans,-to-beat-is--new-age-islam%E2%80%99s-selection-from-world-press,-10-december/d/105564

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