Not too long ago we shared a study from an organization headed up by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the plethora of Islamic jihadist groups operating in Syria and Iraq. We’ve become so myopic in our focus on ISIS, and not really doing anything, that it resembles the maxim, “can’t see the forest for the trees.” There’s a global Islamic jihadist forest, and we continue to focus on a tree here, a tree there. This tactical Cyclops-like vision coming from the strategic level of national security has damaging effects.
As brought to us by the Washington Free Beacon, “Al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, poses a greater long-term threat to the United States than ISIS, according to a new report.
The policy paper, issued last week by the Institute for the Study of War and the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project, labels al Nusra “much more dangerous” than ISIS and criticizes the Obama administration’s focus on fighting the Islamic State in Syria rather than combating the al-Qaida branch.
“The Jabhat al Nusra model is much more dangerous to the U.S. than the ISIS model in the long run. ISIS has transformed itself into a territorial state with an army. It imposes itself upon the population in that territory by force and with terror,” the report explains. “It does not tolerate dissension even within the narrow bands of Salafism, let alone beyond those bands. It promises governance that it cannot deliver. ISIS presents numerous vulnerabilities that a well-designed campaign against it could exploit.”
The report argues that al Nusra does not suffer from the same “vulnerabilities” as ISIS, namely because it attempts to befriend people rather than force them under its rule and also supplies its partners with military capabilities in an effort to encourage attacks on western nations.
“It provides advanced military capabilities to its partners that make them both dependent on Jabhat al Nusra and grateful to it such that they willingly provide Jabhat al Nusra cover and at least rhetorical protection, even against U.S. activities precisely targeting the elements of Jabhat al Nusra oriented on attacking the West,” the report reads.”
Some time ago we addressed the rise of the Nusra Front and as always we were referred to as “alarmists.” Here is yet another consequence, intended or not, of the precipitous withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, and the announced foreign policy strategy of the Obama administration to “pivot” away from the Middle East. In essence, we turned off the lights and the roaches came out.
Al-Qaida in Iraq had been defeated, soundly, and its infamous and demonic leader Zarqawi had been killed. But with the dying breath on its lips, President Obama sought to lead by campaign promise, not reality, did not deal the death blow and allowed a dying movement to regain its breath. And so the Al Nusra Front came first, but because it was not brutal enough, gave birth to ISIS.
The spawns of savage barbarism have brought havoc, and the fight against Bashar Assad is not so much about freedom — perhaps in its infantile stage – as much as defeating secular leadership in the Muslim world. The objective of creating a Sunni Islamic jihadist caliphate is coming together. And we’ve even seen the resurgence of Al-Qaida with branches in the Maghreb, in Syria and Iraq, in the Arabian Peninsula, and once again, back in Afghanistan. We now have brutal African Islamic jihadist groups — Boko Haram and Al Shaabab — who just recently executed a horrific attack at a restaurant. The Taliban is back, stronger and holding more territory since 2001 and just conducted a major attack at a university in Pakistan.
The troubling aspect to all of this is the Obama administration is eschewing Sunni support and alliances in its full bore support of Iran. If we had the vision of the forest, we would be aligning with Sunni allies such as Egypt, Jordan, the Kurds, and even the Sunni tribes in Iraq against the Islamic jihadists and the Shiite axis which encompasses Hezbollah and the Quds Force, as well as providing material support to Hamas and Fatah.
This is the dangerous gumbo that the next president will inherit. What you have to ask yourself, do you REALLY think ISIS and Al Nusra will “feel the Bern? Do you believe Hillary “Benghazi Betty” Clinton will do anything different than continue with the failures of the Obama administration? And what GOP presidential candidate has displayed the seasoned ability to present a strategic vision to thwart the expansion of Islamic jihadism?
The enemy is growing in strength, and we’re not deterring their advance, which means we are enabling it. And unlike what the president believes, it’s not the existence of Guantanamo Bay but our abject weakness which is inspiring and building the recruitment of these groups. They are winning while we are avoiding, surrendering our ships, releasing the enemy and sadly… kneeling.