Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

What IS the world to do with ISIS?

As the black-turbanned Islamic State (ISIS) fighters sweep towards Baghdad and the Turkish border, Western-led air strikes have slowed but not halted their savage advance. Shia communities have fled in alarm as have Christian sects, all at risk as ISIS stamps its brutal brand of Islam on the desert sands. Says Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, there is some good news in all this, as ISIS "is triggering some long overdue, brutally honest, soul-searching by Arabs and Muslims about how such a large, murderous Sunni death cult could have emerged in their midst." He concludes, "ISIS is a killing machine, and it will take another killing machine to search it out and destroy it on the ground."

Writing in Al Jazeera, Mohamed Ghilan writes, "Extremism is dangerous, but it is more dangerous to let it flourish and manifest itself the way the terrorist organisation known as the Islamic State group has been allowed to." He attacks the group's avowed religious underpinnings as a sham. "In all their abuses and atrocities, the Islamic State claims to be merely implementing Sharia under their alleged caliphate. However, a reading of history and an understanding of Islamic law would quickly reveal that the Islamic State group is either grossly misinformed, or knowingly engaging in abuses they deem necessary to gain firm control over the population."

In an editorial, Britain's Guardian says that whatever the exigencies, the West must resist the temptation to get into bed with Assad. As air strikes prove ineffective to halt the militants' advance despite the success of a loosely cobbled Arab coalition that has put jets in the air, the paper says, "Under these circumstances it might be tempting to resort to desperate measures. Among them would be the recasting of the Assad regime as a necessary, if ugly, ally in a difficult fight. Such a move would suit the Syrian dictator well: he has long sought precisely that re-legitimisation."

It continues: "Allowing Assad to become what the Americans used to call “our sonofabitch” would only increase the appeal of Isis to mainstream Sunni opinion in Syria and beyond, boosting the very forces the international coalition is set on destroying."

While Muslims around the world have strongly denounced ISIS and its barbarism, the Vatican Radio said, "Two of the leading voices in the Muslim world denounced the persecution of Christians in Iraq, at the hands of extremists proclaiming a caliphate under the name Islamic State. The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries and 1.4 billion Muslims."

Meanwhile Indonesia, which is home to 10 percent of the world's Muslim population, has announced a ban on ISIS in response to recruiting efforts. A government spokesman said, "The government rejects and bans the teachings of ISIS." - Asian Conversations