Hezbollah, Egypt And Libya Engage In The Fight Against ISIS, But A Comprehensive Approach Is Needed

Hezbollah Acknowledges Fighting ISIS
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he focused on the regional threats posed by Islamist militants, saying that his party was standing in defense of Islam.

“Fighting takfiris is a defense of Islam, and not the defense of an axis, government or sect,” he said before issuing a warning that ISIS was “threatening to move in on the country in a bid to seize Islam’s two holiest cities of Mecca and Medina,” reports Now Lebanon.

Iran-backed Shiite militias are leading the fight in Iraq against the Islamic State, reports The Washington Post.

In the address, he seemed to be urging the Sunni Arab world into recognizing that they cannot fight ISIS alone, says Nicholas Noe, a Beirut-based political analyst.

“He was acknowledging Hezbollah’s fundamental weakness right now, which is that ‘we can’t resolve this on our own,’ ” he said. “He was very much making it clear that if they stand alone, the region is never going to settle down.”

Meanwhile, Libya was drawn into the fight against ISIS after 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded and the Libyan government responded with targeted air strikes. However pleasing they might be to those wishing to avenge the brutal ISIS actions, Mohamed Eljarh writes in Foreign Policy that air strikes alone will not lead to victory.

“The Islamic State threat in Libya has been there for many months, and those who wish to strike a decisive blow against it can only do so if their actions are based on a comprehensive strategy. The air strikes might win applause on the streets in both Egypt and Libya for a few days, but in the medium term Cairo’s actions could prove counterproductive,” he contends.

What is needed is “an externally organized military campaign should be built on an overarching plan that includes (among other things) robust measures for securing borders in order to prevent an influx of weapons and jihadist fighter” because Libya’s involvement will certainly motivate “many Libyans and foreigners to join IS forces.”

Part of that motivation stems from ISIS’ appeal to radical Muslims, a kind of allure that al Qaeda failed to achieve to the agree its successor has. The reason the two terrorist groups have not had the same attraction is that ISIS rose to prominence as a result of the power vacuum created in Syria by the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. As a consolidated local power, its leadership gambled that conditions in Sunni Iraq weren’t so different.

“Expanding to Iraq enabled Islamic State to become something much greater than an al-Qaeda competitor. Islamic State could claim to be, in fact, a state — an entity that exercises sovereignty. This plausible claim to territory was the necessary prerequisite for the declaration of a caliphate. And it was the reason Islamic State dropped the modifier ‘in Iraq and the Levant’ from its name. Regionalized names were reminiscent of al-Qaeda; Islamic State was aiming at something much bigger. The branding decision flowed logically from the strategy,” argues Noah Feldman in Bloomberg News.

To radical Muslims, the assertion of sovereignty through the unification of disparate parts is deeply resonant. After all, the Prophet Muhammad’s first and most important step to empire building was unifying Arabian tribes under the banner of Islam. Divided, the tribes suppressed and balanced one another. United, they swept through the late antique world, conquering at an astonishing rate of speed.

 

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