ISIS Can Be Beaten – But Not This Week


16 November 2015


ISIS is beatable.  It is not a mystical zealotry wielding an Islamist excalibur. It is not invincible.

ISIS is not a supremely organised and state supported military organisation

ISAS is in military terms terrorist organisation that could not withstand a 21st century centrally command-led  onslaught from, say, the United States and the Global Coalition.

ISAS has very little natural support in the Middle East.  Most governments and people of all Islamic persuasion want ISIS put down.

That is the message that the G20 leaders meeting in Turkey should be giving out and then backing that up with all their military and most importantly political resources. They have to agree what they are going after, when they are doing that and those without major military roles should support diplomatically, financially and territorially those that have.

They should be making it clear that today starts new planning to re-establish a joint service military command to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. There will be  subordinate commands to do the same in the ISIS diaspora in Afghanistan, Gaza,  (more powerful by the day), Libya and sub-Saharan Africa.

This is not let’s-get-’em redneck reactionary rhetoric.

Compared with the political and economic authority of the major nations against ISIS and most certainly the military assets of those same powers (ISIS does not have, an air force, a drone capability, satellite intelligence, elint etc) ISIS’s only advantage is that  coalition powers are relying mostly on air attacks and Kurdish ground forces.  Even now an apparent success against ISIS in reality means fast withdrawal having raped and wasted the town they then leave behind the booby traps and images of misery because the locals assume they will return.  This means that something has to come out of Turkey that will lead not only to chasing ISIS out of town but then going in hot pursuit.

But that does not make ISIS unbeatable.

The International Syria Support Group who will be in Turkey insist that ISIS will be turned back and then talks on both sides to bring peace to Syria can proceed.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

The anti-Assad rebels will not agree to an election and anyway you cannot have an election in rubbled homeland.  All the time there is that condition then ISIS will be there until the high table in Turkey or wherever next they meet take a decision to go beyond a handful of nations with bombings and drone attacks.

A single command system with a four star general and five star resources must be established. It should have regional and UN plus domestic legal authority to throw electronic, satellite, human and special forces intelligence systems into locating and then applying the military hardware in unrelenting bitterness and purpose against ISIS. It must too have a follow-on plan what to do in regions where ISIS is defeated and the resentment of its followers festers.

None of this is a job for the week, next week or long weeks after that. Wars do not work that way.  But the near truth is that with all the advantages of scattered and sleeping anonymity ISIS has not been so successful.

If the suicide bombers had got into the Stade de France on Friday, then the dead list would be even more gruesome and the mood and shock nationally depressing.  But the bombers did not get in. There too is the fact that although 132 deaths occurred on Friday, that is not a big number.

That number is killed on a daily basis in the Middle East.  Now we may appreciate that – for the moment.

So put in perspective the Global Coalition with hugely superior intelligence gathering and firepower can defeat ISIS.  Whether or not it has the political will (the Paris atrocity will quickly lose its effect) is another matter.


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