I would like to share this question with you, what do you think the possibilities are to see a “decisive storm” in Syria or Iraq? who do you think would start this initiative and take the lead of such operation? Would it be through a military intervention or political deplomacy actions?
What an awesome question, Wissam!
I will share some initial thoughts, and hope you know I fully understand my views are simplistic and relatively uninformed, so I welcome the feedback and exchange as a means of learning.
The short version of my answer to your questions is:
Possibility level = 35%; the lead in such an initiative should be shared; diplomacy would need to occur first, extensively and on multiple levels; and military intervention would be an inevitable endeavour unless we are able to cut off the funding sources to ISIS and reverse their momentum.
The longer version goes like this:
A successful Decisive Storm in Iraq and Syria (DSIS?) might very well be possible, but creating the political will within the nations contributing to that storm would be one of the trickier aspects to establish and sustain. It would be problematic to establish political will as the stakeholders would need to both ascertain and agree upon the actual costs and intended outcomes of the initiative. Both topics, of course, would be highly arduous to codify given the number of players involved and the pre-existing and highly contentious matrix of social, political, and ideological differences likely held by the participant states, let alone their body politics.
In short, wanting peace in the region is not in question, but what the broader end-result should be seems very much up for debate. More problematically, misinterpreting how to erect peace could very well contribute to destabilisation of the actors offering to participate in the initiative at hand. This might prove especially dangerous if they are regional actors who would then be contributing to a potential broadening of the conflict rather than a localised implosion of ISIS’ momentum.
While peace is both a laudable and obvious objective, it is, nevertheless, a state of being rather than an actual geo-socio-political structure (with relatively predictable behaviour attached to its existence). I say this as I suspect the Realist/Hawks pacing the hallowed halls of the military institutions who would be required to back such a pondered initiative would likely aspire to an end result which provides sustained benefit for their individual state interests. In fact, they might actually need a demonstrable benefit associated with their participation or they might risk losing street-level acceptance and kicking up the instability referenced above.
Finding and leveraging relationships regarding income-positive activities such as trade is difficult enough in the region, let alone gaining adequate momentum for income-negative and politically risky activities such as armed conflict. Indeed, to answer one of your questions, the whole process would certainly mandate intensive multi-lateral diplomatic missions as well as winning the hearts and minds of street level actors through multi-track efforts– regionally and abroad. Successful diplomacy would very much need to take place throughout the entire spectrum of stakeholders.
The introduction of non-regional actors in this equation could prove challenging as they represent both opportunity and risk to such a mission. Russia, China, the US, the UK, France? I have a hunch an operation such as DSIS would likely require backing (formal or not) and I for one have serious doubts on how well the nations capable of backing such a resource-intensive operation would get along before, during, and after the operation.
Finally, if the “light footprint” approach adopted in r Libya is anything to go by, the required “destructive footprint” for a successful DSIS would probably be both heavy and deep – and it would be a difficult task to balance that footprint with any semblance of a “constructive handprint”. Accordingly, a decisive storm might establish a false peace and/or a long-term security trap. Or, more worryingly, it might further destabilise matters. I am not saying DSIS isn’t possible, I am just saying it comes with some very real problems.
And with those opening thoughts I depart back to the happy land of kitten videos.
Wow Maren!! Firstly, thank you for your very interesting answer. I believe it is a regional conflict rather than a civil conflict, especially that i know very well, the numbers of Lebanese hizbollah members, fighting along Al Assad regime, in addition to fighters from Iran (Iranian revolutionary guards) who are believed to be in control of all military operations in Syria and Iraq. on the other hand, huge funds and armoury assistance from regional countries have been given unconditionally to the the Syrian resistance forces and fighter who fled to Syria few years back. I believe the conflict in Syria is completely related to Iraq, and the Iranian project in the region for which it started in Iraq after the 2003 was obvious back then and still. They have tried to start something few years ago in Bahrain, but they could not succeed, however, most recently as you have probably seen what happened in Yemen, Al Houthies are not even Shia’a, but they are serving the Iranian interests. It is very complicated, so i would really appreciate if you send me some links to watch these happy land of kitten videos!! haha
I hope you are doing well Maren!
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Well, Wissam, because we are discussing armed conflict, as well as potential third party intervention, I shall share this kitten video to start 😉
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