In the Heat of Battle against Islamic State
Boris DOLGOV | 06.11.2014 | OPINION

In the Heat of Battle against Islamic State

The Islamic State (IS) is a radical Islamist group that seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq in September 2014. It got control of Mosul, the sec-ond largest Iraqi city, some parts of Nainawa, Salah ad Din, Diyala, Anbar provinces and Iraqi Kurdistan, including oilfields. The advances towards Bagdad and Kirkuk were stopped by Iraqi forces, Kurdish peshmerga formations and Shia volunteers, some of them coming from Iran. 

Near a year ago the Syrian Sunni-populated Ar-Raqqah province went under the Islamic State control. Recently the militants have moved to the oil rich Syrian Western Kurdistan to start a fierce battle for Kobane (Arabic: Ras al-Ayn), an objective at the Syria-Turkey border which has great strategic importance. The Islamist forces were opposed by Syrian Kurds and the city dwell-ers. The Islamic State enjoyed superiority in weapons systems and strength of personnel but the Kurds offered stiff resistance fighting ferociously for every house. 

Kobane became the Stalingrad of Kurds. 

Ismael Ahmed, one of Syrian Communist Party activists, offered this definition while speaking a press-conference in Moscow on October 14. He emphasized that the Party took the side of gov-ernment in opposing the radicals. 

The Kurdish communities in Syria and Iraq are not at one on all issues. There are things that di-vide them. In Syria Bashar Assad enjoys wide support among Kurds. Many of them support the Communist Party. At that some Kurdish groups stand for autonomy of Syrian Western Kurdi-stan. Few of Kurds oppose the ruling regime. There is an about 5 thousand strong group of for-mer Syrian servicemen that deserted from the ranks of Syrian army to go to Iraq as the conflict started. The United States wanted this group to become an element of Free Syria Army and fight the forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and, to lesser extent, the Islamic State. 

In October 2014 the top leadership of peshmerga units operating in Iraqi Western Kurdistan asked Turkey to let their forces pass across the Turkish territory to join the fight in Kobane. Be-fore Ankara had ignored such requests many times. There have been numerous protests staged by Kurds in Turkey and the European Union member-states demanding to put an end to the gen-ocide of Kurds in Kobane that resulted in Turkish government’s change of stance. Finally it agreed to let the peshmerga formations pass. They joined the fight and fended off the Islamic State’s offensive together with Syrian brothers-in-arms. 

The air strikes delivered by the anti-Islamic State coalition led by the United States are not the decisive factor to turn the tide of war. 

According to some reports, the US plans to strike the Syrian oil infrastructure captured by Islamists to prevent illegal export bringing in up to $2 million daily. Any unbiased person can see that the strikes will be aimed at Syria’s economic potential. 

The US Middle East policy remains the same. The US intends to continue fighting the Islamic State but it refuses to join forces with Iran and Syria no matter they face the same enemy. The regime change in Damascus is still on the agenda of US administration which considers the Is-lamic State to be a force to be used for this purpose. 

Washington excluded the possibility of cooperating with Russia. According to Russian official data, over 400 citizens of Russian Federation have joined the ranks of the Islamic State. 

The Islamic State leaders threatened to advance into Russia and promulgate a caliphate in Northern Caucasus. 

Tarkhan Batirashvili known by his nom de guerre Abu Omar al-Shishani or Omar al-Shishani is a commander for the Islamic State in Syria. He hails from the Pankisi Gorge where ethnic Che-chens live. He is one of those who put forward the idea of exporting jihad to the Caucasus. Al-Shishani promised an award for Chechen Republic’s leaders whom he put on the wanted list. The idea of creating a Muslim state can inspire Muslim population. 

The doctrine of Islamic state is based on the «genuine» Islam going back to the Prophet Mu-hammad and four Caliphs’ days. It calls for return to the just and eternal Sharia law decreed by Allah. All social and economic problems are to be solved in an Islamic state where Islamic social justice reigns supreme. The idea of creating an Islamic state may be alive for extremely long time in the Arab – Muslim world. 

The Islamist leaders may conclude a tactical truce with the West like bin Laden who cooperated with the US special services in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Libyan Islamists received aid from NATO as they fought against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and the Islamic State was sup-ported by the West as it waged the war against Bashar Assad. 

This kind of alliance will turn against the West itself because the strategic objective of radical Islamists is the restoration of Islamic caliphate by waging ‘a sacred war against the infidel West mired in sins. 

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