Security, Terrorism & Foreign Affairs Challenges For Trump Govt
The Islamic State remains one of the biggest problems of the Trump administration, argues Rajinder Kumar.
Despite the presence of hundreds of think tanks, to an Asian observer, US security and foreign policies mostly appear extremely short-sighted.
They appear to lack an understanding of the psyche of Islamic and Asian populations and are sub-consciously still coloured by the Cold War psyche – something that will prove harmful to the United States’ own security in the long-term and generate pain for the world at large.
Some of the major policy challenges for the Trump administration would be the following:
The Islamic State is a breakaway faction of al-Qaeda, which started prominently expanding since 2010 in Iraq. Under serious pressure from Syria, Iraq, US and Russia, it is on the verge of losing most of the territory controlled by it in Syria and Iraq. Its initial successes in Syria and Iraq through extremely cruel and brutal tactics attracted a large number of followers among disillusioned and frustrated Sunni Muslim youths, radicalised mostly through social media in various countries, especially in the US and Europe.
Losses on the ground had forced Daesh to give a call to its followers in the US and Europe to carry out terror strikes in these countries. In such a scenario, a joint campaign by the US and Russia to eliminate it as quickly as possible is the most important task for the new administration. One must be clear that all Salafist Sunni armed groups anywhere in the world are dangerous to human civilisation and must be totally eliminated.
It is a misconception that there are some moderate Sunni rebel groups in Syria. As far as US security is concerned, the Bashar al-Assad regime is better than any Salafist Sunni group. In the international intelligence community, it is no secret that US agencies were at least aware of the revival of the monster of ISIS by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 2014.
It was they who provided arms and funds to self-styled Caliph Baghdadi. The Obama administration took no interest in countering this emerging threat until it directly targeted US interests and started knocking at Baghdad’s door. Even then, it was a confused and knee-jerk response. It was only after more than a year, when Russia launched airstrikes against Daesh in Syria and exposed the role of Turkey – Daesh’s biggest collaborator and its prime source of funding – that the Obama administration, to save face, had to increase the pressure on Daesh.
Besides Iran, if there is anyone the Salafist Islamists hate the most, it it the US. Trump showed great common sense when he stated that Saddam or Gaddafi or even Assad Bashar would have never allowed a monster like Daesh to take birth. One should frankly admit that none of the three posed a security threat to the US.
The second biggest threat to US and its allies is that posed by al-Qaeda. A sense of indifference towards al-Qaeda is visible in the security communities, including in the US, with their attention more focused on Daesh. I think al-Qaeda is lying low for tactical reasons rather than out of depletion of its capabilities. We should not forget that Daesh is only a more virulent, mutant version of Al-Qaeda. It suits al-Qaeda if Daesh hogs the limelight and causes pain to ‘Anti-Islamic’ communities.
Al-Qaeda’s core is intellectually on more solid ground and receives sustenance from that section of the Sunni Salafist clergy which has strong theological credentials. While Daesh attracts frustrated Muslim youth, al-Qaeda, on the other hand, invites religiously inclined youth.
Al-Qaeda needs to be carefully monitored and targeted. With Daesh fighting a losing war in Syria and Iraq, Muslim youth from Europe and US who joined the ISIS were likely to return to their home countries and drift toward al-Qaeda, which would prime them, over a period, for major coordinated multiple terror strikes around the globe.
Sunni Pan-Islamic Salafism
The increasing influence of Salafists is a serious concern for the international community, including the US. It is this ideology which is producing more and more Islamists and jihadis, putting humankind in danger.
Salafists’ Islam, which was confined to Sheikdoms and kingdoms of the Middle East, especially of Saudi Arabia as a sect of Islamic religion, is mushrooming throughout the world as a political ideology.
General Flynn, President Trump’s NSA nominee, is absolutely right in describing this version of Salafists’ Islam as a political ideology and not religion.
In fact, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamic group, describes Islam not only as a religion but as a political ideology, which every Muslim has a duty to propagate in the entire world and force all non-Muslims to adopt. The objective of the self-styled Caliphate established by Abu Bakar is to make the entire world subservient to this Salafist ideology. It is not the Islamic religion, but this version of Salafist ideology which needs to be banished from the world.
The new administration would have to make it very clear to Saudi Arabia and other sheikdoms of the Middle East that follow Sunni Salafist Islam that they must completely stop support for any terrorist and paramilitary groups and also stop their proselytisation activities around the world.
(This article is the first of a three-part story.)
(This views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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