Syria: The Cease-Fire that was and wasn’t

On 10 September 2016, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov announced a cease-fire agreement in Geneva following negotiations that lasted over ten months. The agreement was not a cease-fire between Russia and the US, but one between their proxies. Russia was answerable for President Bashar Assad and his allies that include Russia. The US was responsible for the ‘moderate’ rebels supported by the West and its allies. The two major rebel groups, ISIL and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, were excluded from the cease-fire. Since the cease-fire has been violated a number of times, one may assume that those who signed the agreement did not have full control over those who fire.

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Islamic State gets ambitious, plans to target India: Report

In a recent revelation by an internal recruitment document of ISIL, it showed the group was preparing to attack India and draw the United States into a war. The group also plans to unite the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army.

The Islamic State’s members adhere to an extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam and consider themselves the only true believers. The group’s blinkered ideology espouses that the rest of the world comprises non-believers who want to destroy Islam, thereby justifying attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The group raises several million dollars by robbing, looting and extortion. They also possess weapons from machine guns to rocket launchers and even surface-to-air missile systems. The Islamic State controls many areas of Syria and Iraq, while its main agenda is to establish a caliphate governed in accordance with Islamic law or Sharia by God’s deputy.

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Arabs hold the key to defeating the Islamic State

June 29 marked the first anniversary of the Islamic state. It is an indictment of the international community that an entity so monstrous should move into its second year without showing any significant signs of recession. Instead, its recruitment drive is increasingly sophisticated and successful, the envy of other terror groups. While the ISIS prompts many conspiracy theories, it has not yet sufficiently unsettled Arabs to launch an assault on it as decisive as in the case of impoverished Yemen, for instance. No joint Arab force was mooted to battle the Islamic state. Differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran take precedence over joint efforts against it.

Whatever air power has been used has been done sporadically, more as revenge, and sometimes to deflect attention away from internal deficiencies. This is how Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Morocco have launched attacks. Western military initiatives led by the US have also been limited and also resented in the region. More resources have been poured into Syrian rebels battling the Assad government, which looks almost angelic compared to the IS. Shiite militias, Kurdish peshmerga, the weak Iraqi army are fighting the ISIS in what are more localised knee-jerk reactions.
Arab commentators and analysts continue to see Assad and Iran as bigger threats.

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