Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overtook Mosul, Iraq’s second-most populous city, on Tuesday, their second take-over in less than 24 hours. Since then, 37 people have died in bombings in Iraq.
More than two years after American forces left Iraq, the recent advances towards Baghdad have forced the Iraqi government to signal asking the U.S. for air strikes against the militants. There are "intentions to open the door for anyone who desires to combat terrorism and to overcome disputes no matter what their political stance is," Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Maliki said
The UN predicts a humanitarian crisis while ministers in Iraqi government admit that a catastrophe is in the making. A decade after the American invasion, the country still looks as fragile as ever. The insurgents seized huge stores of American-supplied arms, ammunition and vehicles while nearly 500,000 people have fled to safer from ISIS areas.
Labeled more vicious than Al-Qaeda itself, the group is known for slaughtering all minorities. Ironically enough, Al-Qaeda deems ISIS too violent and astray. However, in terming it an Islamist insurgency, and equating it with every other "Islamic" group in any other part of the world, we run into the trap of not understanding how to tackle this group in itself.
Once it is realized that they are not popular even among the more traditional "Islamists" will we be able to step away from the clash of ideologies prism. This will be the more intelligent thing to do in such wars and attacks elsewhere too.
The ISIS attacks remind us of the vicious cycle of conflict the war on terrorism brings with it. With the U.S. also planning on leaving Afghanistan soon, not much is being said about this on the mainstream media yet but we wonder what the current series of events in Iraq imply for the future of Afghanistan, and hence for the region.
People who are shocked at the fall of Mosul will lose their minds when they see what happens once America leaves Afghanistan.— Saifuddin Qutuz (@BlackFlagWorld) June 12, 2014
You might want to see the ongoing balkanisation of Iraq as a template for what may just happen/ is happening here in Pakistan.— Zarrar Khuhro (@ZarrarKhuhro) June 12, 2014
The Larger Region, The Bigger Picture
The region isn’t boding well any way, but the recent advances in Iraq remind us of what may be in store for Afghanistan and its neighbors too. Afghanistan, still struggling with the Taliban, too is not big news any more. There are innocent lives being lost ever so often by the Islamist forces under the banners of Al-Qaeda and Taliban and also in response by the U.S. drones and the various national governments’ clash-backs.
Whereas the U.S. government took a positive step by entering a prisoner swap deal with the Taliban; it has resumed its drone attacks in North Waziristan, Pakistan today to tackle the Taliban in the region. With the U.S. leaving Afghanistan in a vacuum too, this vicious cycle doesn’t seem to have an end to it with the way things are going.
The War of Labels and our Immunity to the News
Why can’t the world powers combined with local governments stop the terrorists? While governments sway between outright war and attempt at negotiations, the media-constructed labeling of the groups involved continues. A simple Google search on Iraq’s advances news, for example, emits words like Islamists attacks, militant strife, deadly clashes, Islamist terrorists, etc.
These have become unquestionable descriptions contributing towards society’s inability to break out of the cycle and rethink what the governments of the world should do, but also sadly speaking we have become immune to these tragedies. If the current wave of Iraq’s struggle is talked about with the same labels, we might lose sight of what is in store for Iraq and eventually for Afghanistan and the larger region.