The notorious “Daesh” or the Islamic State (formerly ISIL) is a thorn in the Arab world’s side. It is a clear and present danger to almost every country in the region. To begin with, this group creates serious hazards to the unity of Iraq and Syria and poses a possible danger to Lebanon and Jordan. But their danger is not limited to that, they are also an imminent threat to Gulf States and the West, bearing in mind that some ISIL members have citizens from western countries and they may return home if ISIL is defeated.
ISIL’s danger can easily slip across regional borders and become a truly global terror right in the West’s backyard. This danger is not only reflected in the threat to the unity of some Arab countries as it compromises their territorial integrity, but it also lies in the system of values and the concept of governance adopted by ISIL. This system runs counter to the one adopted by Arab and world countries, especially with the existence of globalization, the boom in communication technology and other developments that push towards global unified aims.
The US administration and its allies are used to turning a blind eye – if not becoming a silent partner – to any danger not directly threatening its interests in the region. It pays no heed when this danger is directed to other countries or parties even if they are allies to a certain degree. It looked the other way when groups similar to Al-Qaeda recruited fighters in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The United States and other regional intelligence services availed themselves of those fighters to achieve their aims in defeating the Soviet Union and then reduced their influence in that region.
The US remained indifferent until the danger approached its interests in the world, and reached its territories on 11 September 2001 when Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon’s headquarters. After this terrorist attack, the US declared war to combat terrorism and to fight Mullah Omar’s Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Since then the world knew alliances, including the predecessor of the Islamic State, in waging war on terrorism. A clear example of this was the war against Iraq in 2003.
It is maybe true that the US followed the same policy of indifference with ISIL, because the danger of that militant group at the beginning was focused on Arab countries like Iraq and Syria. Once again, this indifference continued until ISIL’s aims jeopardized US interests in the region and even threatened American citizens’ lives. Finally, things went as far as the beheading of US journalists by barbarian ISIL fighters.
The US formed an international alliance to fight this terrorist organization and launched air strikes against ISIL militants in Iraq without landing ground troops. Certainly, this alliance seeks the support of some regional countries that are interested in eliminating this organization.
The United States still follows a double-standard policy concerning terrorism, and it does not have one criterion for the nature of terrorism that can be applied anywhere in the world. Terrorism is condemned only when it is closing in on American interests, while it is considered mere protests and acts of violence when US interests are safe. The same can be applied to the Brotherhood’s terrorism in Egypt’s Sinai and others areas; it is the terrorism of the allies and friends of the Islamic political currents backed by US administration to fill the political vacuum created after the ruling regime was overthrown on 25 January 2011.
The absence of a US unified concept of terrorism and the lack of an international strategic vision to combat this appalling phenomenon is due to political tendencies and interests. Unfortunately, this will only help terrorism to spread to other areas of the world, and this entails major risks in the present and in the future.