Call it naïve materialism or ridiculous timing. Call it sensationalism or playing to the gallery. Call it hopefulness, hopelessness, or whatever. But, the seeds have been sown. It’s going to be a tough ride. Who benefits from all the brouhaha and kerfuffle isn’t difficult to decipher. It’s the ISIS. The signs are ominous, but, of course, one needs to be willing enough to see the writing on the wall. There’ve been plenty of warnings issued, but many of the people, over the years, have chosen to debunk these, instead.
Let’s face it. We’ve given them too much a space to grow, penetrate and then annihilate the civilians. Perhaps, the priorities have been different. The message distributed by Daesh after the Gulf crisis should’ve made many countries jittery – but that hasn’t been the case so far. They somehow seem to have gotten the job done. The job of sidelining Qatar appears more important than eradicating and overcoming Daesh. In an audio message, ISIS called its followers to up the ante during the holy month of Ramadan.
Three of the Middle Eastern nations were specifically named by Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer, the official spokesman of ISIS, to be the sites of future attacks. These include Iraq, Iran and Syria. Do Iran and Syria have close ties with Qatar? Have they openly supported Qatar after the GCC rift? Is Iran delivering food aid to Qatar? No, it just appears to be a coincidence.
After all, why would Daesh categorically threaten countries that haven’t alienated Qatar? This makes no sense. Leave it. For ISIS, It’s only about fighting the ‘apostates’. As the spokesman for the outfit urged the fighters to “charge against the rejectionists and the apostates and fight them with the strength of one man”.
I dare not make any analogies, but here are some of the facts. Russia, officially, hasn’t taken sides in the Qatar-Gulf row. Qatari investors, just recently, bought huge stakes in VTB Bank, a Russian state-owned venture, and the St. Petersburg Airport. Just last year, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) bought 19.5% shares of Rosneft, a state-owned oil company in Russia. The deal injected 700 billion rubles into the Russian economy.
Qatar, Iran and Russia share the largest natural gas reserves. These are the same countries that have, for long, lobbied for the creation of a ‘Gas-OPEC’. But, Saudi Arabia, the US and the UAE have continuously been blocking the move.
Mr Baghdadi, who has recently been reported by the Russian media to have been killed as a result of the airstrikes in the Levant, seems to have played that out magnificently. This is how you take advantage of an internal rift. They’re at it. In response, one may wonder when the international community would call for the elimination of Daesh, unanimously and unequivocally.
Coming back to Iran, the audio message goes on to praise the recent attacks on Iran, and states that the country is “weaker than a spider’s web”. CIA director, Mike Pompeo, might be savouring the statement. After all, he has recently stated: “Congress must act to change Iranian behaviour, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime.” President Trump didn’t shy away from elaborating his thoughts, either. During the summit in KSA, he said, “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”
This is as dangerous as it gets. The problem with this is that ISIS, somehow, comes out unscathed. Instead of tightening the screws, they’re pointing fingers.
When it comes to the Middle East, the priorities don’t seem to have been set right. There’s no conspiracy being hatched, there’s no stabbing in the back. There’s just a consistent lack of counterterrorism policy and the ill-defined direction toward which the matters in the Middle East seem heading.
There’s been too much leeway given to the terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Nobody wants to work collectively and ward the terrorist threat off. Temporary gains seem to have outweighed the possibility and prospects of a terror-free world. But, if that were the case, plenty of hatemongering and proxy networks might diminish all too quickly. There needs to be a consistent counterterrorism policy that clearly outlines international terrorists. Internal struggles and freedom movements should be de-hyphenated from terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab.
They’ve spent too much time creating internal rifts in the Middle East with the Qatar-GCC row. Will that struggle pay off? Or, more pertinently, how will that play out?
The Arab leaders should understand this. Fight amongst the Bedouin tribes wouldn’t serve them well. It hasn’t in the past, and it wouldn’t in the future, either. Watch out, guys!
Else, the genie is out of the bottle, anyway.