Need for comprehensive political strategy to counter ISIS

Image: Duizende Irakese burgers zijn op de vlucht voor ISIS. © Médecins Sans Frontières

September 23, 2014

The sudden and unforeseen expansion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria over the summer has led to a dramatic shift on the ground in the Middle East, in Western public opinion, and subsequently in the involvement of the international community.

Even though ISIS had been a threat to civilians in northern Syria and Iraq over the past year, the potential genocide of the Iraqi Yezidi community, the capture of Mosul, and the images of journalists and an aid worker being beheaded by an English-speaking jihad fighter have caused an urgent sense that the crisis in Iraq and Syria cannot be solved without direct international interference.

PAX believes that the present predominantly military response of the US-led coalition against ISIS lacks a clear political strategy. A tactical military response that is not part of a comprehensive political strategy will lead to an open-ended military campaign with unclear goals, and is doomed to fail. The costs of setting unclear and moving targets are that violence is compounded while victory remains elusive.

With the initiation of the strikes in Syria, it is more urgent now more than ever to develop a clear political strategy addressing the conditions that led to the formation of ISIS.

Want to know more? Read the Syria & Iraq Alert I

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