We must take responsibility for ISIS
Dealing with ISIS was a global responsibility, in many ways. The UN estimates the caliphate’s foreign fighters numbered 40,000. Half of them were Middle Eastern and North African extremists, but others travelled from outside the region. 5000 joined from Western Europe alone. In seemingly progressive areas of the world, Islamophobia and extremism played their role in pushing unstable minds into committing atrocities.
After years of brutal fighting, the global Caliphate’s army is receding. The key role played by Kurdish forces in North-Eastern Syria in bringing down the totalitarian regime has won them praise. It didn’t lead others into supporting the burden of detaining the defeated extremists though. It was immediately problematic and for months they warned that if Turkey invaded, they could reopen Pandora’s box.
The home countries of these detainees widely abhor ISIS. What approach to take regarding repatriating these exports has been more divisive, however. International law stipulates that states can’t render individuals stateless. Regardless, leading statesmen alongside fringe nationalist groups have demanded revocations of statehood.
One striking example is Britain’s Shamima Begum, who ISIS groomed and flew out at the age of 15. When the caliphate collapsed, the new mother expected Britain to have her back. One suggestion called for her return. She’d then go to court and be subject to the same legislative protocol as others born in the country.
For others, the betrayal was so overwhelming that they insisted she’d even lost her right to go on trial. UK Home Secretary Savid Javid revoked her British citizenship and refused her return. After leaving her stateless, Begum’s lawyer accused him of ‘human fly-tipping’ since she was ‘born, raised, groomed and radicalised here in the UK’. Her young children’s death in a Syrian camp would’ve done little to de-radicalise her or answer the responsibility question.
Similar responses have been common across the world. As the Kurds warned, it has unfolded along the path guaranteed by such an attitude. There’s no adequate stewardship for the globe’s most dangerous organisation in the area they wish to rule.
Some are so upset with ISIS that they refuse to do the responsible thing. They refuse to keep them from society and rehabilitate them to no longer threaten people’s lives.
Instead, Erdogan began wreaking havoc, despite the warning. Extremists from around the world will regroup as they escape in the chaos. Countries that allow extremism to suck people in hold responsibility for what those people do. Brave Kurdish fighters have dealt with the consequences and provided an opportunity to rectify it. By refusing to help, people like Savid Javid have again been responsible once again for helping these forces to culminate.
Months of deaf ears indicates that intervention in Syria was always about regime change. If the aims were the defeat of ISIS and bringing stability back, then leaders wouldn’t have crammed all the problems back into a Pandora’s box that didn’t have the resources or protection to be kept closed. As swathes of extremists escape detention, the possibility of rectification closes with it.
Turkey too holds responsibility for blundering in and shutting this window of opportunity. The last opportunity for meaningful action by actors outside of the region is now. Governments must discourage Turkey from opening the box so those who hold responsibility can finally take back those who have avoided due process. The continued selling of arms to Saudi Arabia suggests that money is prioritised over human rights abuses and war crimes. Turkey must be discouraged with sanctions, diplomacy, embargos. Syria threatens to crumble again. Before it does, those who hold responsibility for ISIS’ global army need to act.