Recently, Marie Harf, a Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department said that we need to focus on creating jobs for our medium and long-term goals in defeating ISIS.
Immediately, the ultra-conservative war hawks such as Fox News, Col. Allen West, and others blasted Harf for the proposed strategy on dealing with ISIS. They said that we need to just go into the IS and kill all of ISIS.
In order to solve a problem it is necessary to get to the root of the problem. The Greeks were very astute at getting to the root of problems in order to solve them. When dealing with an enemy such as ISIS, it is important to know the social and cultural issues and ideologies that allows them to attract young people to fight for them.
It is also important to have an understanding of the history of the Islamic religion and the region in order to know what we are dealing with. It is also important to understand that ISIS is not driven by mainstream Islamic ideology, but are instead driven by the Khawarij methodology.
The Khawarij have been around since the death of the Prophet Muhammad and were the people that murdered Uthman and Ali, both early Caliphs of Islam. The Khawarij have their own interpretation of the Islamic religion and if the views of others do not fit in with their view of Islam they will brand that person as a disbeliever and kill them.
This is an important point to understand, that we are dealing with a people whose ideology has created problems in Islam since the beginning and that these people killed two of the Caliphs including Ali, who was Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law, and yet these same people are calling for a Caliphate now.
The Khawarij wanted to have their own leader after Ali said that he would meet with al-Mu’awiyah about who is the rightful Caliph. They were upset that Ali would consider such a position and sent 4.000 people to Nahrawan in order to kill Ali. Ali had a much larger army which caused 2,000 to fell and 2,000 were killed.
Since the Sunnis consider Ali the 4th Caliph and the Shia consider Ali the 1st Imam, the Khawarij have been enemies of both sects ever since, even though they claim to be Sunni.
Both Harf and the right are both correct in that they each have one-part of what should be in the overall strategy to defeat ISIS. Immediately, we should send boots on the ground as well as collaborate with other countries in fighting ISIS in order to prevent ISIS from spreading and killing innocents.
However, jobs do need to be created which will help to prevent more young people from fighting. ISIS loves to recruit from the youth that feel as if they have no future, but this is only part of the problem.
The first step in defeating ISIS is understanding what drives ISIS and why are they doing what they are doing. ISIS is driven by the iron-clad ideology that only their strict, puritan vision of Islam is correct, and anyone who believes otherwise is a kafir or disbeliever and they are to be killed.
The people that are attracted to this ideology generally will make the same arguments. They will say that the Arabs and the Muslims have been humiliated. That the USA and other Western countries just want to kill Arabs for Israel’s sake, and that they want to restore Islam to its old glory.
When I was in Tunisia, I was constantly asked, “Why does America and Americans want to kill us Muslims? We believe in peace, and those terrorists are not Muslims or what Islam is about”.
Arabs are consistently bombarded with imagery of Americans and other Western countries killing Arabs and other Muslims. Every time you turn on the television in the Arab world or your computer, you see Americans killing Arabs. Then Fox news panelists, as well as comments made by Americans against Islam and Muslims is broadcast 24-7 throughout the Muslim world.
So the feeling is that all Americans want to kill Arabs and all Muslims. This is similar to the imagery given to Americans creating the perception that all Arabs and Muslims want to kill all Arabs.
This feeling of being under attack has allowed for ISIS to use this as a recruiting tool in order to get people to fight for them. It makes it easier to attract youth that do not have an understanding of Islam and to tell them it is their duty to fight the Crusaders who want to kill all Muslims.
It is important to understand that many of the people attracted by ISIS are not well-educated in the Islamic religion, and do not even have a formal education. They are out of work, unable to find a job, and then they are told that it is American imperialism that is preventing them from being able to find work.
Many of these people drink alcohol and are womanizers, they are by no means religious.
So it is important for this perception of all Americans wanting to kill Arabs and all Arabs wanting to kill Americans to change. The media has a social responsibility to prevent creating problems.
Once this problem is understood, then a strategy can be made. The first strategy, which has already begun is to bomb ISIS strongholds in order to weaken them. However, this is not enough. The US military should work in conjunction with Arab nation-states and NATO in order to commit troops to the ground to fight ISIS head-on.
This is to prevent expansion and the slaughter of innocents.
The next step is to create jobs and opportunity. It is important to understand that it is easier to invite people into a social movement that have more time to spend. If people are working then they have less time. Also work brings about a dignity to someone that someone who does not have might not feel. If someone feels that they cannot get a job and that their future is hopeless then they are easier to recruit.
Another important step in fighting extremism is a battle for Islamic identity. This is for the soul of the ideology of Islam. This has to be done strictly by the Muslims, namely the Sunni Muslims. They need to educate themselves on what Islam really teaches in order to protect themselves from the Khawarij ideology, as well as use forums, and the mosques to show where the Khawarij ideology is wrong and what is the true Islam.
The Sunni Muslims cannot allow western media or the Khawarij to define to the masses what Islam is but to define what Islam is themselves. The Khawarij is what the western media tries to brand all of Islam as. The Sunnis need to fight against this branding.
If someone from a mosque or neighborhood are speaking about doing a terroristic act, then the people need to turn that person into their local authorities. Sunni Muslims need to stamp the Khawarij out of their communities.
There has never been a fascist extreme Muslim government that lasted for more than ten years. Historically, if a new regime was harsh they become more tolerant. The Sunnis need to show the real tolerance of Islam to the Khawarij by using the Qur’an and authentic Hadith sources.
A major problem that has to be addressed is America’s bias position with Israel. As long as it seems that America is either ran by Israel and does whatever Israel says, an is not fair in their dealings with Palestine, ISIS will always have a recruiting tool. I have had Arabs ask me why is the US so favorable to Israel and have told me that if the US was more neutral that the Arabs would be their biggest allies.
ISIS can be defeated, but it will take time. A combination of military, social, political, ideological, and economic strategies in three stages will be needed in order to defeat ISIS. Bombing and military action alone will not succeed. Every time a bomb drops and someone is killed, it can entice others to join in the fight. This is not helping anyone in the long run.