Before you start reading this posting, I must apologize for its length. Since the subject has a lot of "moving parts", I wanted to be certain that I presented all of the background necessary to understand the importance of main focus of this posting, an article that appeared on a Middle East think-tank website that outlines Israel's position on the eradication of the Islamic State.
"US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently gathered defense ministers from allied nations to plan what officials hope will be the decisive stage in the campaign to eradicate the Islamic State (IS) organization. This is a strategic mistake.
IS, a radical Islamist group, has killed thousands of people since it declared an Islamic caliphate in June 2014, with the Syrian city of Raqqa as its de facto capital. It captured tremendous international attention by swiftly conquering large swaths of land and by releasing gruesome pictures of beheadings and other means of execution."
Let's look at a bit of background first. Back in January 2016, Ashton Carter met with his counterpart, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris and announced the following:
"ISIL is a cancer that’s threatening to spread. And like all cancers, you can’t cure the disease just by cutting out the tumor. You have to eliminate it wherever it has spread, and stop it from coming back."
He also stated the following:
"Any nation that cares about the safety of its people or the future of its civilization must know this: The United States and strong partners like France will continue to lead the fight, but there can be no free riders….Our campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, at its source and wherever it rears its head, is far from over. But the outcome is certain. Our campaign will continue to adapt and build on our success, as ISIL’s territory decreases, its resources dwindle, and local, capable forces gain the capacity to not only win on the field of battle, but to lay the foundation for lasting security in the region, and a more secure future for the world.”
At a press conference held after the July 20, 2016 meeting with 30 leaders and defence ministers from around the globe, Mr. Carter stated the following:
"I want to begin by thanking all of my counterparts, all of the ministers of defense from all of the nations represented here today at another one of our full counter-ISIL meetings of defense ministers from the entire coalition.
This is something we've done and we're going to do periodically, and I thank them for joining us as we continue to rigorous evaluate, plan the next steps of and further accelerate our campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat…
As I said earlier today, our coalition's military campaign plan has three objectives. First, to destroy the ISIL parent tumor in Iraq and Syria. That's necessary, but it's not sufficient. As recent attacks remind us, ISIL safe havens threaten not only the lives of Iraqi and Syrian people, but also the security of our own citizens.
And the sooner we defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the safer our countries will be.
So our second objective is to combat ISIL's metastasizes everywhere they emerge around the world. And third, and most important, to help protect our homelands."
When you combine the comments from both meetings, it is pretty clear that the American Secretary of Defense will be satisfied with nothing short of complete eradication of the Islamic State wherever it exists.
Now, let's go back to Professor Inbar's perspective on the issue, remembering that his organization is closely linked with the current Israeli Prime Minister:
"But IS is primarily successful where there is a political void. Although the offensives in Syria and Iraq showed IS’s tactical capabilities, they were directed against failed states with weakened militaries. On occasions when the poorly trained IS troops have met well-organized opposition, even that of non-state entities like the Kurdish militias, the group’s performance has been less convincing. When greater military pressure was applied and Turkish support dwindled, IS went into retreat.
A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS. IS is a magnet for radicalized Muslims in countries throughout the world. These volunteers are easier targets to identify, saving intelligence work. They acquire destructive skills in the fields of Syria and Iraq that are of undoubted concern if they return home, but some of them acquire shaheed status while still away – a blessing for their home countries. If IS is fully defeated, more of these people are likely to come home and cause trouble.
Moreover, a weak and lingering IS could undermine the attraction of the caliphate idea. A dysfunctional and embattled political entity is more conducive to the disillusionment of Muslim adherents of a caliphate in our times than an IS destroyed by a mighty America-led coalition. The latter scenario perfectly fits the narrative of continuous and perfidious efforts on the part of the West to destroy Islam, which feeds radical Muslim hatred for everything the West stands for."
Let's get to the real goal of Professor Inbar's rather interesting logic of allowing a much-reduced Islamic State to continue to exist:
"The West yearns for stability, and holds out a naive hope that the military defeat of IS will be instrumental in reaching that goal. But stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. The defeat of IS would encourage Iranian hegemony in the region, buttress Russia’s role, and prolong Assad’s tyranny. Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus do not share our democratic values and have little inclination to help America and the West.
Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change. Unfortunately, the Obama administration fails to see that its main enemy is Iran. The Obama administration has inflated the threat from IS in order to legitimize Iran as a “responsible” actor that will, supposedly, fight IS in the Middle East. This was part of the Obama administration’s rationale for its nuclear deal with Iran and central to its “legacy,” which is likely to be ill-remembered." (my bold)
Let's go back to 2015. Here's what Benjamin Netanyahu had to say about the nuclear deal with Iran:
In light of his concerns about a nuclear Iraq from July 2015, here is what he had to say as a private citizen about another so-called nuclear threat in the region to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12, 2002:
Let's repeat what he said:
"There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons – no question whatsoever and there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately."
I find it fascinating to see that an Israeli think-tank would take the position that the Islamic State should be allowed to exist in a reduced form to provide a political balance against Iran, Israel's avowed enemy-of-the-day in the Middle East. While I think that the odds of completely defeating the Islamic State are very small, I think that the logic of allowing a form of the Islamic State to continue to exist simply to counter Iran is an extremely self-centred viewpoint on the part of Israel.
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