We all knew that Daesh was capable of horrible things. However, the death by burning to which Jordanian pilot Moaz al Kasasbeh was subjected to broke through a morbid threshold I believe very few of us, if any, thought would happen. This isn’t to say that the other killing methods (decapitation, execution, drowning, etc..) used by the so-called Islamic State are any less brutal. But we dealt with them by exercising a degree of denial, if only because of the sheer number of times they have and continue to occur and more importantly, as a coping mechanism to deal with the horrors of Daesh at our doorsteps.
I am still unable to explain why Daesh decided to cross this new red line with an Arab and not someone else. Was it pure coincidence and just worse luck for Jordan and al Kasasbeh? Did Daesh believe Jordan wouldn’t react as other non-Arab countries would if one of their own were burned to death? Or was Daesh unwilling to accept that a fellow Muslim (though them being Muslims is also questionable) was taking part in destroying them and thus deserved a more severe punishment?
Be it as it may, the murder of al Kasasbeh should now be used to re-evaluate the ways in which the Arab world and the U.S.-led coalition have dealt with Daesh so far. As it seems, the bombing campaign has failed to stop Daesh. It may have assisted Kurds in liberating their lands, but the courage of Kurdish men and women on the ground in their fight against Daesh should not be underestimated either. Lebanon’s Hezballah has noted time and again that its involvement in Syria is aimed at protecting Lebanon from the dangers of Daesh (and its extremist brother Jabhat al Nusra) from taking over the country. But with reports that around 5% of Lebanon may be under Daesh’s control, will we now be told that had it not been for Hezballah, Daesh’s control would’ve been even greater? In its opposition to Bashar al Assad, Turkey transformed itself into a key lifeline for most of Syria’s opposition, including its most extreme branches. What will it take for Turkey to play a decisive role in clamping down on this lifeline and help bring an end to Daesh, a Turkish al Kasasbeh? There are reports estimating that around 40% of Syria is under Daesh’s control, while Bashar Al Assad couldn’t have asked for a better alibi to keep himself in power. Is there any hope for Syria at this point? Meanwhile, just because Daesh has so far been contained, or contained itself, in the Levant, doesn’t mean it may not reach other areas, including the Arabian Peninsula. What is the Gulf doing in the war against Daesh, now that the UAE withdrew from the bombing coalition after news of al Kasasbeh’s capture? Is their role only confined to just funding (and keeping the seeds of violence and instability away from their shores)? Fair enough, but who are they funding these days, those with Daesh, those against them, or both?
It is time to re-evaluate the means that have been used so far to counter Daesh and use the bloody fodder that it provides everyday as key to facilitate its own demise. The war against Daesh must be a multifaceted war of military might based from the region, have a psychological component (especially for those who may garner the slightest sympathy for Daesh, if only by sectarian affinity) and more importantly, a financial war to close the faucet that funds all this terror. Interestingly, there have been reports on criticism from within Daesh of its tactics, especially the burning of al Kasasbeh. But do we really have the luxury of waiting for Daesh to self-destruct from within, as the best way to deal with it once and for all?
As a side note, it is also time for the Lebanese government to re-evaluate the way it has chosen to deal, or not to deal, with Daesh and its supporters in Lebanon. Too many people have been displaced or live in fear, too many of our brave soldiers killed, too many kidnapped and still waiting to be set free and too many soldiers decapitated at the hands of Daesh or their bloody brother in arms Jabhat al Nusra. There is nothing more important and a threat more pressing than this. With its increased brutality, Daesh provides a golden window of opportunity for everyone, the Lebanese government in particular, to squash Daesh. And it must do so now, before it’s too late.