The followers of the new so-called Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, have been on the rampage again this week, wreaking havoc and sowing death and destruction across Iraq. If U.S. President Barack Obama isn’t clear enough on the dangers presented by the fighters to the people in Iraq and Syria, perhaps he will understand the danger in allowing the Islamists control of Iraq’s and Syria’s oil facilities.
The U.S. president made it clear over this past weekend that the American military intervention in Iraq is purely “for humanitarian reasons” and to protect U.S. military personnel deployed in the region. Then he left Washington, D.C. for his summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.
Ordering the U.S. military into action in Iraq is certainly a step in right direction. But it’s a small step without a coherent policy to back it up. Besides the imminent danger posed by the advance of the IS fighters to all minority groups -- against whom the Islamist fighters do not shy away from displaying the greatest brutality possible -- allowing revenue-generating oil and gas facilities to fall under their control will dramatically worsen the threat.
The president directed the U.S. Air Force to bomb a certain number of targets in Iraq to aid refugees running away from the hoards of IS fighters and to prevent IS fighters getting too close to some of the 800 U.S. advisers on the ground.
These measures are far from sufficient. It is a Band-Aid, when what is needed is major surgery.
“The president made it clear this was to avert the humanitarian crisis and to protect American military personnel,” said Sen. John McCain, a leading Obama opponent.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain added, “That’s not a strategy, that’s not a policy. That is simply a very narrow and focused approach to a problem which is metastasizing as we speak.”
Obama is treading carefully perhaps because he does not want to infuriate the group that has turned into the most dangerous of terrorist groups in the world. Images and video released by the Islamic State shows hideous recordings of prisoners being tortured, mistreated and executed. Many of the videos show Islamic militants promising to bring their battle to the West.
Indeed, when he was released from a U.S. detention center in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told one of the U.S. officers in charge of the center, “I will see you in New York.”
Obama’s directives are insufficient because sooner or later the United States will have to face the rising threat of the Islamic State, head on. Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “emir” of the self-declared Islamic Caliphate, has said this himself.
These fighters are committed to eventually turn their attention to the United States. They will strike in the U.S. regardless of how many bombs are dropped on them. Think of IS as an angry wasp nest that has been disturbed. You know very well that unless you kill them, they will attack you.
By Claude Salhani of Oilprice.com