Hassan Hassan writes: Less than three weeks before ISIL captured Jordanian pilot Maaz Al Kassasbeh on December 24, Jordan’s King Abdullah described the fight against the extremist group as “our third world war”. He said that Muslim leaders should take ownership of the fight, which requires a pan-regional strategy to counter extremism.
Two months later, Jordan is now finding itself being pushed to the forefront of this “generational fight”, as the king put it then. Since the terror group burnt Al Kassasbeh to death in a cage, the country’s air force has carried out at least 56 sorties, and been joined by F16s of the UAE. Jordan’s fight against ISIL is no longer someone else’s war.
The greatest mistake that Jordan can make is to define its battle against ISIL purely in the language of vengeance. The pain and anger that define the atmosphere in Jordan today might abate in coming weeks, but the country’s commitment to the destruction of ISIL should become part of a long-term strategy. The rise of ISIL was a result of reactionary and inconsistent policies in the first place – something Jordan must avoid if it is to win this war.
Jordan must heed the king’s own advice during his interview with CBS News in December, when he said that ISIL would not go away without a “holistic” strategy that views the group as part of greater challenges facing the region. ISIL, he said, is one face of many extremist groups in the Middle East. [Continue reading…]