The wider participation of Western powers in the air war against the Islamic State (IS) is a very welcome development. It shows how the US and its allies view the jihadists as a very serious terror threat to the whole world.
There is every reason in the world to fear the further rise of IS globally, because it has demonstrated to the world its heartlessness after it beheaded two US journalists, a British aid worker, and a French tourist. It has also posted videos and pictures in the world wide web of its beheadings, mass executions and other atrocities to taunt the peoples of the world and scare us all with their ruthlessness.
Well, the IS jihadists thought the world would take their barbarity sitting down. They were very wrong.
As of Sunday, three more nations – United Kingdom, Belgium and Denmark – have decided to join the air strikes against the jihadists in Iraq. The US and its Arab allies, and France have conducted numerous air strikes against the IS, with the US and its Arab allies also striking jihadist targets in Syria.
The Pentagon said air strikes — which continued for a fifth day in Syria — had disrupted lucrative oil-pumping operations that have helped fund the IS terrorists but that a final victory, perhaps still years away, would need soldiers on the ground.
The White House has welcomed the new European countries recruited to the Iraq operation. They are expected to add a total of 19 fighter jets in the air campaign over the country.
That would free up more US air power to strike jihadist targets in Syria, where American jets are already flying together with warplanes from four allied Arab countries.
The US also approved a training package worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the training and arming of Syrian rebels, who are also up against the oppressive regime of Bashar Al-Assad. The objective of improving the fighting capabilities of the Syrian rebels is also to avoid sending troops from the West to take on the remnants of the IS group, at least over the short term.
Although the air campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq is expected to weaken the jihadists, there is no guarantee that the terrorist group will be completely wiped out. Terrorist organizations operate almost like insurgent groups, or they scatter when they are under intense attack and their remnants eventually regroup to continue the combat. Also, air power cannot do it alone, as proven in the Vietnam War.
This means that eventually, the US and its allies might have to send in ground troops at least in Iraq to make sure the remnants of the IS that survive the air strikes are stamped out.
If there is anything the world does not need today, it is the rise of another terrorist organization that can strike at will or with impunity. Just remember 9/11 perpetrated by Al-Qaeda.
In the local front, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Aquino administration itself should not discount the influence of the IS jihadists, because Asia has become a viable recruiting ground. Reports from Agence France-Presse last week said the US believes the group has 1,000 Asian volunteers in its ranks.
In fact, there are disturbing reports from Mindanao that the IS is getting sympathizers there. Let’s hope the military and the police remain vigilant on the spread of IS in the Philippines, while the US and its allies continue to battle the jihadists until the group becomes impotent.