IS Continues to Pillage Middle East: This Needs to End


Illustration by Corinne Fallone

<comment>The Islamic State group (formerly known as ISIS), one of the most ruthless militant groups the world has ever seen, continues a litany of violent attacks across the Middle East. Beheadings, kidnappings and general terror attacks are being used to grab headlines and cause mass panic across most of the Western and Middle Eastern worlds.

The terrorist group, continuing a spread of violence across the Middle East, reports that they are currently holding over 150 Christians and will execute them, according to CNN. The kidnapping draws parallels to another attack in Libya where more than 20 Egyptian Christians were killed.

Osama Edward of the Assyrian Humans Rights Network (AHRN) referred to the Christian hostages saying “They are facing death, people are unarmed, they are peaceful. And they need help.” Currently, the fate of the hostages is unknown, but the Islamic State group plans to execute them due to Western aggression.

In response to the attacks on Christians, Sons of Liberty International (SOLI) is working with members of AHRN to create an army that can stand up to the group's forces, according to USA Today.

SOLI says they are trying to arm and train rebels to combat the spreading threat and preserve their heritage.

SOLI founder Matthew VanDyke believed Western governments weren’t doing enough to help the embattled Assyrians, who were struggling to control their territory on the Nineveh Plains in Iraq.

“I think if you believe in something, you should get out and do something about it rather than give it a thumbs-up to the television,” VanDyke said. “The Christian community in Iraq has been pushed around for a long time, and it needs to stop.”

Although VanDyke believes Western powers aren’t intervening as much as they could, on Feb. 12 President Obama formally asked Congress to allow U.S. military intervention against the Islamic State group.

Although Obama is certain of the risks, he recognizes the need to eliminate the threat quickly, before its reach spreads further across the Middle East.

“Now, make no mistake, this is a difficult mission and it will remain difficult for some time,” Obama said according to CNN. “Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL will lose.”

Obama’s call for more military power would broaden the scope of U.S. intervention in the region, but he made it clear that he wouldn’t use ground troops in Iraq or Syria, according to CNN. As of Sept. 23, 2014, the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes to eliminate the Islamic State group from the air, and so far reports have been mixed.

Congress now has to decide whether to extend war powers to the Obama administration. A draft has already been sent to lawmakers that would “limit the president’s authority to wage a military campaign against ISIS to three years and does not authorize ‘enduring offensive ground combat operations,’” according to CNN.

Obama’s proposal falls in line with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s call for an “Arab coalition” to combat the Islamic State group, according to CNN. Egypt has stepped up intervention after 20 Egyptian hostages were killed in Libya.

El-Sisi says that both Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have also offered military force against the growing threat.

U.S. Central Command says that over 80 percent of airstrikes on the Islamic State group were conducted by the United States, whereas only 20 percent were conducted by other coalition member aircraft. Creating an Arab coalition would help shift the numbers and put more responsibility on Arab countries.

CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes commented, “Airstrikes aren’t going to get the job done. We need the Arab states to be the ones to eventually put the boots on the ground.”