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Treading lightly

Difficulties in war on ISIS

President Obama and other public officials need to re-evaluate the request for authorization of war against ISIS. There are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Despite withdrawing from Iraq less than 4 years ago, President Obama requested authorization for use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This request comes after almost 2,000 air strikes that were started in August of 2014. Unfortunately, escalating the battle with ISIS will not help the situation in the Middle East, and it will only prolong our involvement in what has already been a very long war.

Since 2011, Syria has disintegrated into a battleground for thousands of different rebel groups, including ISIS. Originally a branch of the more well-known terrorist group Al-Qaeda, it broke off and formed its own group in 2014.

CNN states that ISIS’s main goal is to impose a form of Sharia Law — the rules of Islam according to their interpretation of the Quran — through a Muslim state called a caliphate. So far, it has established one with conquered lands from Iraq and Syria.

ISIS has gained American attention through the killing of Americans, such as James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

Targeting ISIS will not be beneficial for the US. ISIS is a group, not a state with clear boundaries, and has spread across the globe to other areas, such as Libya where militants have beheaded 21 Egyptians, according to a recent article in NPR.

President Obama asked in his draft for authorization against “associate persons or forces: individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIS or any closely related successor entity in hostilities against the US or its coalition partners.”

Both Syria and Iraq have a variety of groups that could be “successor entities in hostilities” against the US — such as the Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda branch in Syria — which could prolong the war Obama is starting.

Although Al-Nusra has no ties to ISIS anymore, according to the Daily Mail, “The two share the same ideology and rigid Islamic beliefs”. Despite these similarities, Obama has not asked for an Authorization for the Use of Military Forces against Al-Nusra, which could possibly make it more powerful with the destruction of ISIS.

In fact, the two groups are so similar that Al-Nusra has also established its own Islamic State in Syria. Although it is not as big, their actions are still very similar to that of ISIS.

According to Sami Mashaal, the Head of the Shura Council for the Revolution in Aleppo, in a Daily Mail article, “They are starting to behave like ISIS: kidnapping, enforcing Islamic rules. They have a strategy; they want an Islamic State”.

The article also stated that, Al-Nusra “has begun to extend its control into the Northern city of Aleppo, one of the last areas in Northern Syria with a significant presence of moderate rebel groups.”

Obama needs to seriously reconsider taking a side in the Syrian Civil War, when there are so many different sides. In addition to two large jihadist rebel groups, there is also the Syrian government itself, led by Bashar Al-Assad, who allegedly used chemical weapons against his own people.

In the end, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. By targeting ISIS, the US is inadvertently helping Al-Nusra and Assad, two groups in Syria that are our enemies as well and certainly not our friends.