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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The War Against the Islamic State: Will the West win with Air Bombardment?

The Islamic State appears like a monster to most enlightened people in the West and India. Unfortunately there is an undercurrent of support for it right through the Sunni world, for the IS is basically a Sunni Muslim organization and all others are a pariah to it. One can just see the flags popping up in Pakistan and many places that people (Sunni Muslims) have a lurking admiration for the IS. No wonder Sunni Muslims from all over the world are coming in tens to join the movement. This means it has a groundswell support all over the Muslim world among the Sunni's.
This organization has overrun large areas of Iraq and Syria and enforced the most primitive form of Sharia. Minorities including Shia Muslims have been summarily executed or enslaved and the governments of Iraq and Syria and their army are totally ineffectual against the fighters of the IS. The degree of motivation of these fighters is simply fantastic and fueled by a desire for paradise and 72 virgin wives the IS fighters have spread terror among their opponents. The large number of imports from the UK, France and the USA is a pointer to the dedication and single-minded devotion of the IS brand and its Pan World appeal.
With Iraq almost ready to fall into the lap of the IS, the west and the US is faced with a grave situation. In case they allow the Iraq army to be routed (it is defeated as it is) the chance of other countries falling in the IS lap is very real. It could well mean a fanatic anti west state that will become like the many headed monster the Hydra. It could well be a second faceoff between the Christians and the Muslims (Sunnis) after the great battles of the 16th and 17th century.
The USA and West have responded with an air bombardment of the IS. Many countries from the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have joined this air war against the IS. But despite this the IS is far from defeated or cowed down. In real fact it is growing from strength to strength as more recruits even from India join the IS fighters. Thus though many IS fighters are killed; the ground situation has not changed much. The Iraqi army is unable to make headway and there seems to be a complete lack of will to face the fanatic fighters of the IS on the ground. Guillio Douhet had in his theory of air warfare opined that a battle can be won by airpower alone. With the USA and its allies having complete air control, the battle by now should have started turning in favor of the nation’s fighting the IS. This is not happening and the IS continues its advance, though at some places they are thwarted.
What could be the cause of this failure to dent the IS fighters? Firstly the bombardment appears halfhearted as the west ponders if it can do business with the IS. This is a double speak and is the bane of the western policies throughout the war on terror. After the entire entire west could not even curb Iran which continues its development of nuclear weapons. Secondly there is great sympathy and support for the IS among Sunni Muslims. They see them as Islam’s great soldiers. The Sunni Muslim states also who are part of the coalition are in two minds. No ground troops have been committed and a cardinal principle of war as enunciated by field marshal Montgomery that it requires the infantry soldier to hold the ground is negated. Thus the West will lose again and I do not see the IS being defeated.