The Islamic State also is known as ISIS did not just emerge from the winds as the most feared enemy to peace and the largest terrorist organization with recruits reaching over 30,000 from around the world in 2015. The United States has described ISIS efforts to evoke negative emotions in people through the internet, causing them to commit terrorist acts as a primary threat to the US.
The Growth of ISIS
ISIS emerged from the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq with a local branch formed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 2004. It briefly went under in 2007 with the flow of US troops to Iraq and took advantage of the political unrest in Syria and Iraq to bolster its ranks. Former Iraqi Prime Minister, Maliki targeted Sunni leaders and this led to sectarian tensions among Sunni tribe members who flocked to join the rank of ISIS.
The group was officially renamed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013 and launched a wide scale offensive on Tikrit and Mosul in 2014. It centred its new caliphate from Diyala, Iraq to Aleppo, Syria and renamed the area the Islamic State.
By 2015, ISIS had secretly developed clusters of members in over eight countries. These supporters carried out rapid attacks in Europe and one of such supporters was linked to the bombing of a Russian aeroplane that killed 224 people in October 2015. Another attack occurred the following month in a series of coordinated attacks that devastated the city of Paris.
Is peaceful co-existence an achievable goal?
The term peaceful coexistence was a theory developed by the Russians during the Cold War as a means of co-existing with non-socialist states and could be applied in reaching the ultimate goal of peace in the Middle East.
The war on ISIS has had many victories and losses with human causalities traded on both sides of the fence. It is a difficult war to win with explosive waiting to detonate on street corners in Aleppo and young men brainwashed and tasked with the single goal of blowing themselves up where they can maximize human victims.
However, the war should not be an end but a means to achieve a complete victory that is peaceful co-existence. If ISIS is not rooted out from schools, social media, religious gatherings, the victory is lacking because they could always regroup under a new name as previous terrorist groups have done.
To achieve this goal, the masses and governments alike must take the hard decision to create policies that breed peaceful coexistence and protects the individual, civic and religious rights of all people living in the troubled regions.
Labelling others as enemies because they practice a different religion from Islam or marginalizing them for belonging to a minority ethnic group does not bode well for suitable co-existence. Countries like the United States, Canada, France and other developed countries possess established systems in place to guarantee that everyone inclusive of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and atheists can coexist without breaking out in armed conflict.
The problem with ISIS did not start with terrorism but with the inability of people to co-exist without threatening the existence of those considered different. We must evolve to link up with modern times if we are to advance as a tolerant country welcoming of change.