The future of the Middle East after the war on terror

Originally published in the Greek weekly newspaper “Paraskinio”, issue 606, p. 44, on Nov. 25, 2017

The conditions in Syria and Iraq, where the center of the ISIS terrorist organization is located, clearly show that its extermination is a matter of time. The organization, which controlled over 55% of the Syrian territory, now controls only 8%, while in Iraq it does not exceed 15%. The military atmosphere and the rapid progress of anti-terrorist forces in the last two months confirm that the organization is no longer able to survive. Foreign accessions to ISIS, according to some reports in the West, are almost non-existent. At the communication level, the organization’s information machine has been almost totally destroyed, and even the supporters’ social networks accounts are very few in relation to previous years.

The general political climate in the Middle East clearly shows that there is an international consensus that is a sign of developments. In Syria, the war between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime and its allies is less intense. The US-Russian consensus, reached at the last meeting between Trump and Putin, confirms that international cooking for the future of Syria is ready to be implemented. Sochi meeting between Moscow, Tehran and Ankara is also a confirmation of the agreement. So there is a political solution to the Syrian crisis. With regard to Iraq, the political situation, following the tension last month between Erbil Province and the central government of Baghdad, was introduced into a new phase of internal dialogue. It is likely that in the coming days the results of the Kurdish referendum will be canceled and the region in question will be re-annexed to Iraqi territory. The upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq will open a new chapter in the country’s political future. There is a great desire from Washington for greater involvement of representatives of the Sunni community  in the political system of Iraq, which could be the door to the hope of ending the exclusivity of power by the Shiites after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

On the people’s side, however, things are completely different from the military and the political sphere. The Syrian people, who started the revolution in March 2011, still believe that the only acceptable solution is the overthrow of the  dictator Assad and his regime, as well as its symbols, the army and security services, which killed at least 700.000 Syrians , most civilians, arrested at least 300.000, while at least 10 million were displaced. Therefore, the international cooking, which is currently preparing for the future of Syria, based on the restoration of the system and the preparation of presidential elections with an eventual victory for Assad, will not satisfy the people of Syria. The cycle of conflict will not stop, but it may turn to guerrilla, since dealing militarily with Assad gangs supported by Russia and Iran with the coverage of Americans and Arabs is impossible. In Iraq, the Sunni community, that has been persecuted over the past fourteen years because of its coercion by America and its allies to be ruled by Iraqi Shiites and the recent ongoing war against ISIS, has paid the highest price. According to the New York Times, the real numbers of civilians who died as a result of air raids by the international counter-terrorism coalition are 31 times larger than announced. The Iraqi forces that have taken part in the operations to eradicate ISIS have committed war crimes, kidnappings and killings of identity, and have carved a deep wound that the Iraqi Sunnis will not easily forget.

Yes, ISIS will soon be a past for both Syria and Iraq, but the reasons for the emergence of this organization due to the injustice and exclusion of the Sunnis from the rule of Iraq and Syria have not been eliminated. As a result, the issue of the emergence of a new, perhaps more extreme radical organization is a matter of time unless the Sunni people of the region are given their rights and justice is given to all those who have committed and concealed war crimes or if a political solution is reached on the basis of social justice and equal rights.