Monday, June 21, 2021

Will Demise Of Baghdadi Usher In A New Era In The Arab World?

The news of the death of self-claimed ISIS “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was received with cheer on streets of Mosul, Iraq; where the tyrant in 2014 had announced the establishment of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’. What followed was a story of carnage, mass killings, collective rapes, street violence, vandalism, kidnapping, extortion and what not. 300,000 people of the town of Mosul itself were forced to leave the city and thousands lost their dear ones.

Al-Baghdadi was the head of the terrorist organization, ISIS, which had many incarnations in the past and once controlled the long swath of territories between Syria and Iraq which was equivalent to UK in size. The ISIS of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has left many scars on the civilization of Syria. He destroyed the city of Palmyra, blew off the historic al-Nuri mosque in Mosul in 2017, where he had declared the Islamic Caliphate in 2014. It needs to be mentioned that it was the US-led war in Iraq and Syria and the courageous battle led by the Kurds inside Syria which had significantly subdued ISIS in last couple of years.

As news of his death crept in, many found it difficult to believe the terrorist was dead, because it was not for the first time that the news of his death had appeared. At the same time, it was not easy for many to ignore it because US President Trump himself, whose Arab policy principally revolved around combating the ISIS and eliminating it, announced that he was killed like “a dog and a coward”. President Trump announced that Baghdadi detonated an explosive-laden vest he was wearing after being cornered in a tunnel.

Akin to the operation against Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, US Special Delta Force was used to eliminate Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as well. The US had announced a bounty of US$ 25 million for providing the whereabouts of Baghdadi.

With Baghdadi gone, the international community will now be anxious to know the post-Baghdadi scenario of global terrorism. It should be remembered that after the end of Osama, similar hopes and concern were raised. However, there was no noticeable decline in the graph of terrorism. Instead to two horrible terror outfits of modern times, Al-Nusrah and ISIS, were formed from the remnants of Al Qaeda.

Following the weakening of the Al-Qaeda, ISIS appeared to be more appealing. Its cadres carried out many horrible attacks all across the globe. Baghdadi and Osama were merely the faces and commanded an aura for their sympathizers; but they were not the real executors. Today, the ISIS has developed operative networks in many continents that operate in their exclusive domains. The central leadership has only a minor role to play. The multi-front war against the ISIS has been going on and some success too has been achieved. Thousands of ISIS fighters have been arrested in Syria and Iraq. Among them are many Europeans too! They are to be deported and tried in their respective countries of origin. However, there many who have been influenced by the ISIS ideology. They need to be tackled immediately.

The entrenchment of large-scale ISIS cadres in different social groups has led to radicalization. It would be farfetched to assume that with the end of Baghdadi, the story of the ISIS has also finished. There can be a temporary lull. Internal fights could also take place amongst his successors. But, the ISIS will exist as long as there is political vacuum and instability in the region.

India is of the opinion that the fight against the ISIS must continue. People should remember the atrocities carried out by ISIS terrorists. Any return to the medieval ideology of ISIS will spell doom. Trust must restored in the political system in the larger Arab world which is passing through a volatile phase.

Script: Dr. Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui, Analyst on West Asia

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