"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)



Friday, July 08, 2016

A four-point strategy for defeating the Islamic State- The Washington Post

There are two theaters in the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and they are not defined by international borders. The first is “ISIS-stan” in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Here the U.S.-led coalition is making progress and has rolled back significant portions of the territory held by the terrorist group. But the gains have come from predominantly Kurdish and Shiite forces, and there are limits to how far these groups can advance into Sunni heartland areas and be accepted by local populations. Rolling back the Islamic State is not enough — to sustain these gains, we must focus on the security forces and governance mechanisms that will replace them.
The second theater lies farther west, where Syria is embroiled in a horrendous civil war. The United States has assumed that this problem is not as important and has heretofore avoided involvement except for pursuing diplomatic negotiations. That’s a mistake. In Syria and Iraq, the challenge of countering the Islamic State is bound up in the broader civil wars that have created governance and security vacuums and allowed the group to thrive. These vacuums are the disease; the Islamic State is the most serious of many problematic symptoms.
We propose a strategy that applies a consistent, long-term approach to Iraq and Syria, based on four interlocking efforts.
First, the United States should increase its support to those local armed groups that are acceptable to U.S. interests, whether they are fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad or the Islamic State. There is no central authority in Syria or Iraq that can seize, hold and govern all of the territories held by the Islamic State or the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Supporting more moderate local forces is the only way to secure these areas.