The other side of the Global Coalition Against Daesh

Originally published in the Greek weekly newspaper “Paraskinio”, issue 590, p. 42 on Aug. 5, 2017

Since the summer of 2014, the US has launched a full-scale war against the terrorist organization ISIS. This operation started more than a year after  ISIS gained control of about 35% of the Iraqi and 50% of the Syrian territory. Several Western and Arab countries joined the US move, a total of 73. Thus, the creation of the “Global Coalition Against Daesh” was announced. The Coalition’s mandate was only to combat this particular terrorist organization. Over time, the Coalition managed, with the support of local Iraqi and Syrian forces, to expel ISIS from 30% of the Iraqi and 20% of the Syrian territory. The defeat of ISIS in Mosul was the most important achievement of the Coalition. But this is not the full picture of the International Coalition. Here I will describe her other darkest side.

In the Battle of Mosul, which lasted almost ten months, the Coalition used groups belonging to the Iranian Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, a radical religious militia which, according to reports from international human rights organizations, is responsible for horrific war crimes in Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul, including the killing of thousands of civilians for religious reasons, kidnappings, torture and demographic changes in Sunni regions under the pretext of fighting ISIS. At a recent press conference, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari talked about the Battle of Mosul and confirmed that the number of civilians who have died during the past ten months is over 40.000, including children, women and the disabled. They were either killed by more than 10.000 Coalition bombings, or by Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi.

In Syria last month, more than 1.000 civilians were killed by the bombing of the Global Coalition in the ISIS-controlled areas, while in Raqqa battle for more than a month, dozens of civilians are killed every day by the indiscriminate bombardment of the Coalition, or their direct targeting by the SDF. The policy of the Global Coalition in Iraq has not changed in Syria where the YPG and PYD Kurdish militias, directly linked to the terrorist organization of the PKK, which is included in all international lists of terrorist organizations, are used. The Coalition, in order to justify its support for this kind of militia, created SDF, 90% of whose members belong to YPG and PYD and only 10% are Arabs from the region’s tribes. SDF’s actions fall short of anything from Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi’s, with countless civilian killings, random arrests and demographic change.

Therefore, the Global Coalition Against ISIS is supportive of other types of terrorism and acts worse than that of the particular terrorist organization. Will there ever be justice for these acts and for how long will the international community continue to restrict the definition of terrorism to Islamic-related terrorist acts and close its eyes to the other forms of terrorism?