By Sal Bommarito
The New York Times published a disturbing article titled “Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Mid-East.” It chronicles the plethora of new ISIS affiliates that are planning terrorist activities in North Africa and in Afghanistan. ISIS’ influence is rapidly becoming a global malignancy that includes fledgling operations in western countries.
The U.S. and Arab states opposing ISIS committed a huge blunder at the inception of ISIS. The blunder was giving ISIS time and an opportunity to commandeer land and assets. It should be noted that ISIS is to a great extent a reconfiguration of Al Qaeda and other rebel organizations that have been active in the region for years. Affiliating with ISIS’ great success against American military power and Arab money has reenergized these terrorist groups.
Terrorist organizations are always desperate for new enlistees and money to conduct their nefarious deeds. ISIS used social media to recruit thousands [the Times article indicates there are between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria. This number excludes thousands of discontented Sunnis that could side with ISIS]. ISIS has stolen oil and antiquities, which it sold on the black market to raise funds to operate.
President Obama’s reticence and ambivalence together with Iranian, Saudi and Turkish fear of internal backlash should they enthusiastically support America, have resulted in a benign military response. This reaction enabled ISIS to grow, recruit and fortify its positions.
The ultimate result is that a renegade band of malcontents have grown into a phenom that is being admired and emulated globally. Obama, many western nations and Arab nations have stood by while a gigantic, although unorganized, terrorist organization flourished. It is reminiscent of the Arab Spring, except terror, not democracy, is the objective. If the U.S. had committed to substantive military action that included ground forces, the situation would not be so dire today.
Understandably, Obama wanted to avoid yet another multi-year nation building project. But, he did not need to commit long-term. All he had to do was to use enough firepower and manpower to kill the cancer of Isis before it metastasized. Now, it is too late for any quick fixes. The world will be battling unhappy young people who have found a home in ISIS or one of its wanna-bes for many years.