It’s not just the Middle East; but, really across the entire MENA Region, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. That’s the Middle East and North Africa. Although the Islamic State has gotten everyone’s attention, there are still various other terrorist cells, which are loyal to different other factions. Over the past year or so, Boko Haram and al-Quida in the Arabian Peninsula have certainly made their marks; but ISIS has continued all along to remain front and center in most people’s minds.
With all of the awful brutality and barbaric executions, which were committed by IS, the Syrian Army and other terrorist groups, why has only the death of Jordanian First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh attracted the distinct ire of many of the competing clerics in the multi-faceted Middle East?
Perhaps the answer and the most important denouncement comes from Grand Imam Sheik Tayeb, at the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. Al-Azhar is generally considered the Center of Sunni Islamic Learning. Sheik Tayeb stated that immolation is: “…prohibited in Islam because that punishment belongs to God alone”.
Some analysts feel that the Jihadists chose to make such an over-the-top exhibition, because they had been checked somewhat on the battlefield. Islamic State has lost control of the important Mosul Dam in Iraq and the town of Kobani, the Kurdish stronghold in Syria; however, all tolled, it has only lost 700 square kilometers out of the 55,000 that it had controlled.
IS’s advances across the Region have been stopped, at least for now, by the heroic fighting of the Kurdish Militias, the Iraqi Army and various Sunni groups–in conjunction with the air support of the U.S. led Coalition. Unlike last summer, when the Iraqi Army fled the battlefield, the current troops are better-trained and led, and they are starting to buy into their mission to stop IS.
The real problem now, from an American perspective, is the divided U.S. Congress. To date, our Department of Defense has been fighting in both Iraq and Syria under the open-ended Agreement that was first signed in 2001 to go to War in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So, the New Agreement, is designed to: replace the outdated Old Agreement, but leave just a little authority from it for contingencies; set a three-year time frame for military action, specifically against Islamic State; restrict ground involvement by U.S. troops to only very limited Special Operations actions, and only when absolutely required; not to engage in full-scale military actions; and remain in line with President Barack Obama’s intentions and promises. Unfortunately, such authorizations must be vague in order not to restrict the Military Commanders over the authorized time-frame.
Most Republicans in Congress are in favor of much larger scale actions and also appear to be, once again, harassing the President for being weak and not implementing a more aggressive strategy. The Democrats, on the other hand, are mostly in favor of more limited actions, which seems to be overwhelmingly what most Americans want.
So, that leaves President Barack Obama trying to navigate through the mine field that is the divided Congress. Unfortunately, when any head-of-state doesn’t have the full backing of their own Government in Wartime, that doesn’t send a clear message to the Enemy–whether that be Islamic State or other Terrorist Groups.
The widespread denunciation of the Islamic State throughout the Middle East has not resulted in other nations joining the Coalition, or even providing other forms of support. No doubt, the various power groups within the Region, that generally prefer to work behind the scenes, are probably still providing funds to their usual beneficiaries–either Sunni or Shia.
So, all of the commotion within Islam over the horrific execution of one pilot will certainly be short-lived. That’s what makes the current debate within the U.S. Congress so very, very important. It is time that America take the lead, which it apparently has already done, and insure that it doesn’t result in thousands and thousands of more terrorist recruits, as had happened back in the last decade.