Syria & Iraq Alert I:
The need for a comprehensive political strategy to counter ISIS.
A policy-brief published by the Dutch peace movement PAX, formerly known as IKV Pax Christi.
September 22, 2014.
The sudden and unforeseen expansion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria over the summer has led to a dramatic shift on the ground in the Middle East, in Western public opinion, and subsequently in the involvement of the international community. Even though ISIS had been a threat to civilians in northern Syria and Iraq over the past year, the potential genocide of the Iraqi Yezidi community, the capture of Mosul, and the images of journalists and an aid worker being beheaded by an English-speaking jihad fighter have caused an urgent sense that the crisis in Iraq and Syria cannot be solved without direct international interference.
PAX believes that the present predominantly military response of the US-led coalition against ISIS lacks a clear political strategy. A tactical military response that is not part of a comprehensive political strategy will lead to an open-ended military campaign with unclear goals, and is doomed to fail. The costs of setting unclear and moving targets are that violence is compounded while victory remains elusive.
ISIS is not so much the cause of the present crisis, but rather a result of it – there will not be a quick and easy answer to these root causes of the crisis in Iraq and Syria that led to the rise of ISIS. Neither direct international military action nor delivery of arms to the potential local opponents of ISIS can be excluded, as a last resort and under strict conditions to counter and contain clear and present danger of genocide, large-scale war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.
However, these military actions are only short-term tactical responses that, if not part of a longer term political strategy, will fail to achieve the objective of neutralising or even eliminating ISIS, and will only serve to catalyse the root causes of the conflict. The emergence of ISIS did not occur in a vacuum, but was rather facilitated by ongoing local conflicts rooted in recent history. A political strategy needs to include the resolution of these local conflicts. PAX believes the following elements are essential in such a comprehensive political strategy:
PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS AND UN MANDATE
RESILIENCE OF THE SOCIETY
RESPONSIBLE DELIVERY OF ARMS
CUT OFF THE SUPPLY LINES OF THE PERPETRATORS OF WAR CRIMES
To read all proposals in detail download the full document: Syria Iraq Alert by PAX