Should US Fight ISIS on Ground?
Post the California shootings on 03 Dec by a radicalised couple and earlier the Paris attack sponsored by ISIS the call for US to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria by using ground forces has increased. Should US fight ISIS on ground? This is a topic being debated. A large number of Europeans and even Americans support this view. In this blog I have given reasons why US should not send ground troops to fight ISIS.
Ground Troops Create Anti- US Sentiments
US ground forces’ engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq led to the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS. It is debatable whether the situation improved in both the countries post US intervention. In Iraq it definitely deteriorated. In Afghanistan the situation has been bad since so long that it is difficult to comment as to whether it was better before or after US’ involvement. One thing is definite that great anti US sentiment has been created in the regions and the Islamic world.
Complex Situation in Iraq and Syria
- The United States and five of its Arab allies – Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have been conducting an air campaign against ISIS since Sept 2014.
- America has been responsible for around 60 per cent of the 16,000 bombings in Iraq and Syria carried out since.
- 42 nations have carried out airstrikes, defended land or helped arm ISIS enemies till date.
- Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have successfully fought ISIS in Northern Syria.
- Iraq sponsored group composed of 40 militias – was created just to battle ISIS in the country.
- One rebel group, Jaysh al-Islam – a conglomerate of over 30 Syrian rebel groups are battling ISIS across Syria.
- Iran supported Hezbollah is clashing with ISIS on the Syria-Lebanon border.
- Al-Qaeda’s branch the Al-Nusra front is waging war against ISIS in both Syria and Lebanon.
- Iran ground troops are fighting ISIS in Iraq. With blurring of borders between Iraq and Syria, Iran troops are expected to fight ISIS in Syria as well.
- Saudi Arabia and the rebels fighting ISIS, who have fought Hezbollah fighters in the conflict, are opposed to Iranian presence in Syria.
- Conflicts in the region get Shias and Sunnis to align opposite each other. Thus success
of Iran against ISIS will tend to unify radical Sunnis against Iran.
- Turkey is opposed to the Kurds fighting ISIS.
- Bashar-al-Assad is fighting against Sunni rebels. He has the support of his military, pro regime militia, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. US is supporting the anti regime militias.
Unifying Ground Forces to Eliminate ISIS Difficult
Considering the above complexities it will be very difficult to coordinate forces to defeat the ISIS on ground, notwithstanding the UN resolution and public statements by various leaders.
Elimination -Long Battle
Assuming that ground forces can be united to fight the ISIS, the battle to destroy the ISIS will be a long drawn one.
Visualising Post ISIS Scenario
Let us assume that with coordinated effort ISIS is destroyed in 3-4 years. It will be followed by a renewed power struggle among the various stake holders. It may involve long term engagement of US troops, like in Afghanistan, and continued casualties through terrorist strikes and IEDs. There is a very high probability of similar radical Islamic terrorists germinating and continuing what ISIS is doing now.
ISIS is only Symptom of Radical Islamic Thought
The problem confronting the world is radical Islamic thought and ISIS is only a visible symptom. This problem can be tackled through peaceful education and moulding public opinion against it and not violence. This is a long battle. Violent elimination of ISIS may only complicate the problems for US and the world.
Colonel M.M Nehru
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