What To Expect from Obama’s Plan To Stop Foreign Fighters
September 23, 2014 - accent chair
The videos depicting beheadings of Western civilians by a Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have repelled audiences worldwide. But maybe some-more startling is something some-more mundane: a clearly British accent of a English-speaking, knife-wielding militant.
Dubbed “Jihadi John” by a Western media, a cloaked figure highlights a discouraging trend: Thousands of foreigners, many of them Westerners, are flocking to Iraq and Syria to join ranks with ISIS, al-Nusrah Front, and other al-Qaeda splinter groups.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama will chair a special event of a UN Security Council focused exclusively on a hazard acted by unfamiliar fighters. He is approaching to list an desirous fortitude dedicated to rebellious this scourge. The resolution, if it passes, is a vicious initial step. But a broader bid will need dual distant some-more formidable undertakings: joining from allies in a Middle East and a postulated bid to improved confederate Muslim communities in Western countries.
Invoking Chapter VII of a UN Charter, that empowers a Security Council to levy contracting supplies on all UN member states, the draft resolution legally requires that all governments:
prevent and conceal a recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of people who transport to a State other than their States of chateau or nationality for a purpose of a perpetration, planning, or credentials of, or appearance in, militant acts or a providing or receiving of militant training, and a financing of their transport and of their activities.
Dense yet it might be, this divide outlines a Security Council’s initial try to legally conclude a “foreign militant fighter,” a difficulty absent from existent UN counterterrorism agreements. Among other provisions, a fortitude calls on UN member states to strengthen limit confidence and urge general comprehension sharing, including airline newcomer information, to detect a transformation of people targeted by UN sanctions. The fortitude also mandates that a UN Counterterrorism Committee (CTC), dynamic in a arise of Sep 11, to brand “gaps” in UN member states’ capacities to forestall unfamiliar fighters from traveling abroad.
Despite a remarkable flurry of pleasantness surrounding a identities of ISIS militants, a unfamiliar warrior materialisation is hardly new. For decades, Islamist mutinous groups have targeted foreigners for recruitment. From Afghanistan to Chechnya to Somalia, unfamiliar combatants have played wilful roles in conflicts opposite a Muslim universe given a 1980s. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian academician of Islamic jurisprudence, is widely regarded as a “father” of tellurian jihad. Following a Soviet advance of Afghanistan, Azzam mobilized Muslim fighters from around a universe to ban a communists, building a network of radicalized, stateless militants along a way. Despite his assassination in 1989, Azzam’s legacy endures.
The transformation of unfamiliar fighters opposite borders is an inherently transnational phenomenon. As such, rebellious a hazard they poise requires tellurian coordination. The Obama administration’s Security Council fortitude on unfamiliar fighters is so a acquire development. Until now, a unfamiliar warrior problem has spurred small movement in multilateral settings.
What’s changed? The perfect distance of a problem, for one. Under a ensign of jihad, foreigners are journeying to Iraq and Syria in rare numbers. The CIA estimates that ISIS is between 20,000 and 31,500 group (and women) strong. Half of a members are non-Iraqis and Syrians, hailing from some-more than eighty countries. They embody hordes of Jordanians, Tunisians, and Saudis. But an estimated 2,000 are of Western origin, including hundreds of British, French, Belgian, Dutch, and Australian nationals. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said that during slightest one hundred U.S. adults have assimilated several insurgent groups in Iraq and Syria, including a dozen fighting with ISIS.
Another new non-static is amicable media. Unlike conflicts in decades past, nonconformist insurgent groups now feat Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to disseminate propaganda, hit recruits, and say a tellurian network of sympathizers on a scale that would have been unthinkable to Abdullah Azzam. Initially, ISIS, al-Nusrah Front, and other groups captivated foreigners by invoking oneness among Sunni Muslims worldwide in a onslaught opposite Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to a Alawite group of Islam. It worked. Sunnis descended on Syria to urge their co-religionists. The appearance of amicable media platforms means that recruiters need not rest on word of mouth, letters, or third parties to promote their calls to arms; they can simply strech out to immature impending fighters directly.
The rising waves of unfamiliar fighters poses dangers both locally and globally. Compared to their internal counterparts, unfamiliar fighters tend to be more ideological, brutal, and peaceful to dedicate atrocities, all of that intensify narrow-minded tensions, serve radicalize parties, and extend conflicts. But U.S. supervision officials also worry that passport-holding Westerners waging jihad abroad are expected to lapse to lift out attacks opposite a homeland. Foreign fighters “often lapse home radicalized by their experiences,” warns Samantha Power, U.S. envoy to a UN. Matt Olsen, executive of a U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, also cautions that unfamiliar fighters “may eventually lapse to their home countries battle-hardened, radicalized and dynamic to attack us.”
The due U.S. fortitude will positively pass a Security Council, with full support from Russia and China. This might seem surprising, given how their obstructionism has frequently inept a Security Council vis-à-vis a regime of Bashar al-Assad. The about-face reflects a disadvantage of both countries to transnational jihad. For dual decades, Moscow has been combating extremists in Russia’s primarily Muslim provinces in a North Caucasus, quite in Chechnya and Dagestan. The Dec 2013 bombing in a southern Russian city of Volgograd, in a run-up to a Sochi Olympics, provides usually one example. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities face continued disturbance in a western range of Xinjiang, where longstanding tensions between a infancy Han and a inland Muslim Uighur populations frequently explode into violence.
Scratch a bit deeper, however, and this pretended accord in a Security Council on destroying today’s many absolute appurtenance of unfamiliar fighters starts to wear thin. President Obama, of course, has announced his integrity to strike during ISIS wherever it operates, including not usually Iraq though Syria. Vladimir Putin, however, maintains clever support for Assad, and opposes any strikes on Syrian domain in a deficiency of a UN imprimatur. U.S. interests also separate from critical informal players, including those of Turkey—Washington’s NATO fan and associate co-chair of a Global Counterterrorism Forum. Turkey, whose porous borders with Syria have served as a categorical passage for unfamiliar fighters into Syria, is retiring to join a U.S.-led bloc opposite ISIS. Like a regime in Qatar, that has actively sponsored some of a many radical jihadi groups in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is rapt with deposing a Assad regime and will so expected continue to concede destiny Syrian rebels to openly cranky a Turkish-Syrian border.
A associated bewilderment is a continued disaster of a United Nations to delineate a accord clarification of “terrorism.” When it comes to this Security Council resolution, one state’s “foreign fighter” might be another state’s “freedom fighter.”
Moreover, a breeze U.S. fortitude presumes that countries have not been interlude unfamiliar fighters since they miss a ability to do so. (It’s precisely for this reason that a fortitude asks a CTC to news on ability gaps in UN member states.) In practice, a disaster to forbid unfamiliar fighters derives as most from their miss of joining as from their miss of capacity.
Finally, a palliate with that ISIS has recruited foreigners to a ranks points to a broader issue: a plea of cultivating a clarity of belonging among mostly marginalized diaspora populations—in this case, of Muslim immigrants—in Western countries. For a thousands of immature group and women who deserted Western countries to take adult arms with ISIS, a lift of transnational identity—and a awaiting of substantiating a supposed “Islamic State”—proved some-more alluring than a obligations of citizenship.
This week’s Security Council fortitude starts a critical work of constructing a tellurian horizon opposite unfamiliar fighters and prosecuting those who trip by a cracks. But for a West, a larger plea will be fostering a clarity of county temperament among minority populations receptive to a fake promises of far-flung fundamentalists.
This post appears pleasantness of CFR.org.