Airstrikes against ISIS do not seem to have affected flow of fighters to Syria

The Washington Post reports: More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered such outrage that even more are flocking to the fight because of American intervention.

“The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise,” a U.S. intelligence official said. U.S. officials cautioned, however, that there is a lag in the intelligence being examined by the CIA and other spy agencies, meaning it could be weeks before a change becomes apparent.

The trend line established over the past year would mean that the total number of foreign fighters in Syria exceeds 16,000, and the pace eclipses that of any comparable conflict in recent decades, including the 1980s war in Afghanistan. [Continue reading…]

No one needs to be a foreign policy sage to understand that as much as anything else, ISIS is a product of the war in Iraq. But this observation barely qualifies as analysis — it’s more of a harumph; a way of bemoaning another of the consequences of a catastrophic military misadventure. Least of all should it be taken as a prescription for courses of action to be taken or avoided.

To say, for instance, that ISIS is a product of war and therefore more war will have the same effect is to treat war as having a homogeneous nature which in truth it lacks.

As is oft repeated: war is the continuation of politics by other means. But ISIS repeatedly makes it clear how it insists on practicing politics — submit to its rule or face death. It is ISIS which precludes non-military alternatives.

There really shouldn’t be much debate about whether ISIS needs to be fought. The real questions are about who fights, what are realistic goals, and what is the strategic context?

But the fight against ISIS should be a catalyst for and not a distraction from consideration of the region’s deeper ailments only some of which can be attributed to interference by external powers and the injurious effect of Zionism.

Either this continues to be a region that perceives itself through its own divisions or it engages in the long struggle of finding a common purpose. Hopefully that struggle does not have to postponed until after the death of every current national leader.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email