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article imageOp-Ed: John Kerry says U.S. can neutralize IS more quickly than Al-Qaeda

By Ken Hanly     Nov 20, 2015 in Politics
Washington - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters the United States would be able to "neutralize" the Islamic State or Daesh much more quickly than it was able to do so with Al-Qaeda.
Kerry told reporters:"We began our fight against al-Qaida in 2001 and it took us quite a few years before we were able to eliminate Osama bin Laden and the top leadership and neutralize them as an effective force. We hope to do Daesh much faster than that and we think we have an ability to do that," Al-Qaeda hardly seems neutralized. Al-Qaeda-linked groups are still quite active in many parts of the world including AQAP or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that has advanced considerably in Yemen since the Saudi-led mission against the Houthi. The Al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front in Syria is one of the key rebel groups fighting against the Assad regime and also Daesh.
Wikipedia outlines the development of Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State(IS) from an Al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq: The group originated as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004... In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006. After the Syrian Civil War began in March 2011, the ISI, under the leadership of al-Baghdadi, sent delegates into Syria in August 2011. These fighters named themselves Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām—al-Nusra Front—and established a large presence in Sunni-majority areas of Syria...In April 2013, al-Baghdadi announced the merger of the ISI with al-Nusra Front and that the name of the reunited group was now the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). However, Abu Mohammad al-Julani and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda respectively, rejected the merger. After an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIL on 3 February 2014, citing its failure to consult and "notorious intransigence".
In one form or other the U.S. has been fighting what is now Daesh since 2004 at least already over a decade. The Islamic State as such came into existence only in 2013. It obviously had a long period of growth as part of Al-Qaeda. No doubt Kerry will want to begin counting from 2013 when he counts how long it takes to "neutralize" Daesh. Nevertheless Kerry continued to be upbeat: "President Obama has already ordered increased efforts. He has been doing that before the Paris attacks, over the course of the last months -- increased efforts, and we are seeing the results of those in ways,and I am confident that if we stay steady, keep our heads in thinking creatively, but also being strong and committed to our fundamental values, we are going to defeat Daesh."
Kerry's view contrasts with the view of retired General John Allen, Obama's envoy to the global coalition battling Daesh, who said at a forum in Doha, Qatar: “This will be a long campaign. Defeating Daesh’s ideology will likely take a generation or more. But we can and we must rise to this challenge. In an age when we are more interconnected than at any other time in human history, Daesh is a global threat.” Allen said even though he had served many years as a U.S. marine, he had never seen the types of depravity and brutality that Daesh practiced and even celebrated. He noted Daesh had lost some ground in Iraq and was weakened by airstrikes.
Richard Barrett, a former senior intelligence officer in the UK M16 intelligence agency, also held that the struggle against Daesh would take many years, perhaps generations. Barnett says that air strikes will not eliminate Daesh. While it is imaginable that attacks could weaken Daesh so much they might need to go underground, Barrett claims this would not really neutralize them: "But the idea that ISIL thrives on - the idea behind ISIL - I don’t think is going to be defeated any time soon at all, that requires much more work and a much longer term, much more generational-type struggle." Barrett claimed, as well, that the whole point of attacks such as that in Paris is to polarize society. Barrett agreed there was a very clear link between the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the rise of Daesh. Air strikes in Syria, he said, would not stop Daesh attacks in France or elsewhere and might not even reduce its capacity for attacks. Kerry appears wrong in claiming that Al-Qaeda has been neutralized and also in claiming that Daesh will be neutralized any time soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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