Tag Archives: ISIS extremists


BLOG 417 January 14, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

In these blogs, I attempt to express an objective analysis of the Middle East situation regardless of my personal political viewpoints. In these times of political chaos in America with the government shut-down, political parties locked in turmoil, and the stock market sliding because of the political instability, it is difficult to keep these elements out of the Middle Eastern war. Nevertheless, the following is what appears to be the reality of the situation.

President Donald Trump’s abrupt and totally unexpected decision to pull America out of Syria has brought more chaos to the region. After Secretary Rex Tillerson left office, he noted that Trump didn’t read much and paid little attention to memos. (He also called Trump a moron while in office) Unfortunately, it now appears Tillerson knew exactly what he was talking about. Trump’s ill-timed pronouncement has further deteriorated America’s role in creating stability in the region.

The problem began with President Obama drawing a red-line in Syria and then doing nothing when it was crossed. Obama’s lack of forceful leadership left the door open for the Russians and Iranians to rush up. The result was that Bashar Assad was not toppled and those two dictatorships were more entrenched than ever.

President Trump said he had assurances from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey would not attack the Kurds. Now, Erdogan implies Trump is a traitor and said they would make no concessions in regard to the Kurds. During the Syrian civil war, the Kurds had been America’s firmest allies. Have they now been hung out to dry by both Trump and Erdogan?

Secretary of State Pompeo immediately spoke to assure the Kurds they would be safe after the US leaves. During this trip, Pompeo made an unscheduled stop in Iraq to attempt to quiet fears the Americas are abandoning the region and retreating from a fight with ISIS. Pompeo attempted to maintain America still stood with the Kurds.

Meanwhile, Security Advisor John Bolton was whisked off to Israel to attempt to quiet Israeli fears that the US was turning the ship around and running. Leaving the door wide open in Syria for Iranian advances caused Trump’s stock with Israel to drop lower than the decline in the American stock market!

The administration is suddenly hedging their bets saying any withdrawal will come slowly … and yet news reports say equipment is now being withdrawn. Really? Who is running this show?

Far from ending anything, Trump’s pronouncement has only further increased fear and vulnerability for Israel and other countries in the region.

Regardless of what promises Trump campaigned on, an American President is expected to make decisions on the current conditions and not abandon world leadership simply because attention needs to be diverted away from their own personal scandals.

Let’s face the facts. The enemy is Assad and the threat is Iran. ISIS remains fighting and is not defeated.

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BLOG 255 June 1, 2015

As the song says, “June is busting out all over” and it sure is in the Middle East! Before we take another look at the future of ISIS (the Islamic State), a couple of recent decisions in Egypt deserve our attention. While this story has gone almost unreported in America, an Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Morsi to death. The deposed president of Egypt as well as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first freely elected president in the long history of Egypt now faces execution. Should this sentence be carried out, Morsi could become a martyr to Egyptian Muslims. Of course, the death sentence must be approved by the grand Mufti, the ultimate Sunni religious authority in Egypt. In addition, such convictions will be appealed through the court system. At the least, Morsi’s death sentence is certain evidence that Sisi’s government continues to clean house and not back away from their repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On the brighter side, American citizen Mohamed Soltan was finally released from and Egyptian  jail. Charged with supporting an Islamist protest, he spent two years denying the charges and participating in a hunger strike. His life imprisonment sentence was protested by Human Rights groups and President Obama. President al-Sisi released him and Soltan left the country. Because of solitary confinement and the hunger strike, his health is dire.

Back to ISIS. The recent capture of Ramadi and Palmyra has fired new enthusiasm for the Islamic State in the Muslim world. However, should ISIS prevail, can they endure and survive? The evidence of history suggests not.

The fiery intial success of such groups usually falls before internal rivalries, a quarantine imposed by other governments, or the direct intervention of outside powers such as the United States. Comparing the rise of ISIS to the emergence of the Soviet Union has some interesting similarities. While the Western powers supported the White Russians, the United States, France, and Britian were exhausted by World War I and of course, Germany was defeated. No outside forces descended on the Soviet Union. Today  nearly 75% of the American public believe the war in Iraq was a mistake and no political candidate (except Lindsey Graham)  is going to buckle that large a plebiscite. Some unanticipated event would be required to change the opinion of American intervention.

As long as ISIS remains at war with Iran and its puppets, it can expect to be funded by Sunni donors from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. However, internal factors and behind the scenes maneuvering can easily and quickly change. The recent history of the Arab world running from Egypt’s President Nasser forward reflects the difficulties of maintaining such connections.

Moreover, movements that operate on apocalyptic ideals and vision have historically burned themselves out. The wild end-time ideas that fuel today’s jihadists will disparate with time and the emotional force behind the war will disappear. In other words, what scares the West today, may evaporate tomorrow.

The West does not have the intelligence sources  to know what struggles are currently going on inside ISIS. Past history suggests conflicts are already at work. Such a situation could be as destructive to ISIS as any other factor.

As was true of the Soviet Union, political evolution was necessary for future endurance. Can ISIS make such political adjustments and survive? Past history again suggests a “no” answer. The key to the future may lay inside ISIS.

Only time will tell.


Filed under Christians, Iran, middle east, Muslims


BLOG 253  May 18, 2015

Every time Americans turn on the evening news, they are mystified by the report of some person or group that have tried to leave the country to join ISIS. The common perception is that these “nut cases” are off on a rampage. Moreover, the wanton destruction of property and lives appears as another example of run away crazies. How could some British citizens stand before a TV camerawith a knife and  then behead another human being? Beyond bizarre.

Actually, there is a logic and rational behind all of this madness that I have personally never heard any commentator explain. The media appears as lost as the general public to explain this illogical behavior. Segments of the Muslim population in the United States and Britain say they oppose ISIS (though that message doesn’t seem to appear in mosques on days of worship). But the truth is that ISIS is very Islamic: Just a different brand from the usual.

ISIS is an extremist expression of medieval Muslim faith that is practicing exactly what that variety of religious expression once believed. Americans (including the Obama Administration) don’t grasp that from the ISIS Muslim point-of-view, they are in a religious war. Their extreme actions are meant to bring about the apocalypse that will end all history with a Muslim victory.

Until the West comes to grips with this expression of Muslim faith, they will only play into the hands of ISIS as they are doing now. The extremist that keep joining the war in the Middle East are drawn because they share this faith. Fundamentally, it is a conviction that this current war is the start of a Day of Judgement that will bring in the final consummation of history. ISIS differs from al-Qaeda in that Ben Laden’s army hit underground, even as they do to this day. ISIS operates in the open with the beheadings and destruction meant to terrify (in their terms) all apostates and non-believers. They are following the prophecy and example of Muhammad in punctilious detail. The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the punishments for enemies of Islam. The ninth chapter instructs that a fight against Christians and Jews should occur until they pay the jizya  tax in submission to Islam. Muhammad (who had slaves) set the stage for what ISIS now practices with a far greater seriousness than other segments of Islam practice. ISIS is simply reliving the earliest period when Islam conquerored with the sword.

In the October issue of Dabiq magazine, ISIS published an article entitled “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour.” The story analyzed what should be done with the Yazidis sect that was under attack at the time. The conclusion was the Yazidi women and children should be divided according to Shariah law among the warriors of ISIS.

Part of what has given ISIS such a thrust in the Middle East is that the jihadists, who pour in come not only to fight, but intend to die. Suicide bombers get an automatic free ticket to heaven along with other benefits for killing themselves in religious warfare.

Until the West wakes up to the realities about ISIS and fights a religious war in religious terms, they can not hope to bring an end to the indiscriminate menace that is now haunting the Middle East.

Next week we will take a further look at what makes ISIS tick.

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