While New York City Deals With Terror, Here's An Update On The War Against ISIS In Syria
Over the weekend, we had a series of bombings in NYC and NJ as well as an ISIS-related stabbing in Minnesota. Both events were resolved as of Monday afternoon with the apprehension (NYC) or termination (Minnesota) of alleged ISIS affiliated actors.
These attacks occurred within days of announcements of a "cease fire" between the US and Russia within the Syrian theatre of operations. The NYC and NJ attacks also follow announcements from Free Syrian Army (FSA)-associated rebels calling US intervention in their territory "occupation" by US forces.
As always, the situation is complicated. The Turks control the Northern Border with the FSA and counterinsurgent groups working as a "sort of coalition" on the ground. Iraq is making advances from the east, but ISIS still has major nexuses on the eastern border of occupied territory.
Our analysis indicates three major areas of focus:
1. The US-Russian treaty on de-escalation in Syria is just lip service.
It is a treaty between the US and Russia but DOES NOT include the actors within the region (FSA, et al) and excludes ISIS. It's a bargaining chip for US policy, but does absolutely nothing to protect vulnerable Syrians nor stop on the ground engagements between the FSA, Turkmen fighters and aligned counterinsurgent groups. These sorts of lip service treaties only increase the challenges on the ground and increase the potential for refugees to flee - creating cascading refugee events.
2. Secretary Kerry's announcement suggesting that the media stop reporting terror is dead wrong.
These sort of blanket policy suggestions are counterproductive and only support mass hysteria should a major attack happen. The key to winning is keeping Americans informed while simultaneously engaging American Muslim Communities as a line of defense.
3. ISIS is leveraging their social media engagement and cult recruitment funnel far more effectively than before.
They're moving to recruit and weaponize so-called "Jillenials." The profile of a Jillenial is one of two categories: Fairly well off non-Muslims who are looking for meaning OR non-religious Muslims who are looking for meaning. The immediate need is for a counterstrategy to defeat ISIS online, as well as a ground strategy to stop them from massacring innocents.
Developments in Syria (The Security Corridor has been expanded)
Security Corridor, courtesy of Anadolu Agency
While Independent presidential candidate Gary Johnson flubbed on TV, failing to identify what Aleppo was, the state of affairs stabilized to the north, thanks to Turkish Ahmed forces backing the FSA.
One major issue however - along many cities there are vulnerable populations of Syrians and displaced Syrians that could face ISIS slaughter. While we have a complicated relationship with them, the FSA is the most likely partner to stop ISIS long term.
High activity, low international press coverage
Events overseas have an impact internationally. While many in Europe and the Middle East are watching the impact of ISIS atrocities in real time, much of this is not reported by major media outlets - Americans aren't able to monitor the situation abroad as closely as we should.
ISIS is a defeatable foe - however, at present, unless US policy can be focused on working with the FSA and finding a longer term solution for Syria post-ISIS, periodic attacks may be something we have to prepare for. As American Muslims and their local parishes have been primarily responsible for preventing terror attacks by self-policing, it's time their leaders were engaged to become part of the fight. Lastly, we should be pushing for more media accountability and less censorship of attacks, as information is critical in winning this war.