In 2012, when Assad’s military onslaught on civilians intensified, I was waiting for a “Srebrenica moment” – when a crime of horrendous proportions would finally lead to international action. In May that year more than 100 people were massacred in the Sunni village of Houla by pro-Assad militias. But nothing happened. What did happen was that the Obama administration started leaking to the press that it was preparing a “hub” in Turkey to train Syrian rebels.
When more massacres occurred, the White House started speaking of a “Yemeni scenario”, whereby Assad would be induced to flee his country, just as Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, had done. That didn’t materialise either. Later still there were chemical attacks, and Obama performed a U-turn on his commitment to act. Russia seized the chance to set up a chemical weapons disarmament project, which ultimately saved Assad.
There are many actors responsible for the depth of Syria’s tragedy. It is impossible to lay all the blame on Obama. But Frederic Hof is a rare voice coming from within that administration who says that inaction has had a higher cost than action would have had. This is how he puts it: “No one denies the risks of military action. What is however routinely denied are the risks of inaction.” The Obama presidency has opted to manage US public opinion rather than shape events and prevent more horror. Syrians were simply never a priority.
Opinion piece by Natalie Nougayrède
Some voices including voices both on the left and right in America have been calling for more Tyranny in the Middle East. They imagine the Tyrants keep things under control when in reality they are part of the poison. The Tyrants often rule by sectarianism and condition the society with brutality. Opinion piece by Kahina Bouagache:
The European Union finds itself locked in a confrontation with ‘radical Islam’ when ISIS and Al-Qaeda are just two facets of a much deeper problem: tacit Western support for regimes such as Bashar Assad’s, Saddam Hussein’s, Hosni Mubarak’s, Ayatollah Khamenei’s and many others across the Muslim world, from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. For decades, an enormous citizenry has been persecuted for being secular, for being female, for being gay or for being activists, dissidents and journalists.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs:
They seek to impose an aberrant ideology on the world. For Daesh and their allies, coexistence with their enemies is unimaginable. Compromise is impossible. Daesh has adopted the mindset of an apocalyptic cult group. For Daesh, the Quranic End of Days has already begun. The battle of all battles looms — Armageddon in Dabiq, Syria. Daesh is not a rational actor in the western tradition. Their actions cannot be fully understood the application of western logic and reason. Our enemy believes they are in an existential struggle
"I’ll see you guys in New York." Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, quoted when leaving a US detention camp in 2009.
Gates of Nineveh on The Endless War:
In a review of the philosophy of Jihadist political theorist Sayyid Qutb as part of his 2001 book Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner [translated and abridged here], Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri argued that Qutb’s great contribution was to show that the fundamental issue at stake was whether legitimate authority is derived from God or from men. The will of God as revealed through the Qur’an and the Sharia was for all the world to become Muslim and live according to God’s will. Qutb’s views were deeply rooted in his conception of monotheism and the essential unity of God. God is perfection and truth, and divine revelation in the Qur’an and Sharia are therefore also perfect and true. God is one, so the Ummah must also be one...
Murtaza Hussain writes about the strategy of Daesh to create division:
It is tempting to view such violence as senseless and nihilistic. However, taking into account the Islamic State’s history, it is clear that such a determination would be a mistake. By launching increasingly shocking attacks against Western targets, the Islamic State is pursuing a specific goal — generating hostility between domestic Muslim populations and the broader societies that they live in.
Michael Weiss on ISIS recruit Jake Bilardi:
In the wide world outside al-Dawla al-Islamiya, the Islamic State, we have caught occasional glimpses of these incendiary young zealots. There was, for instance, Jake Bilardi, a disaffected Australian 18-year-old, who, judging by the blog he left while still in Melbourne, made a rather seamless transition from Chomskyism to takfirism, before detonating himself at a checkpoint in Iraq.
There is a playbook, a manifesto: The Management of Savagery/Chaos, a tract written more than a decade ago under the name Abu Bakr Naji, for the Mesopotamian wing of al-Qaida that would become Isis. Think of the horror of Paris and then consider these, its principal axioms. Hit soft targets. “Diversify and widen the vexation strikes against the crusader-Zionist enemy in every place in the Islamic world, and even outside of it if possible, so as to disperse the efforts of the alliance of the enemy and thus drain it to the greatest extent possible.”
Former ISIS Hostage Nicolas Henin writes:
They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. ..