The British analyst Alastair Crooks is wrong when he says,“There is really almost nothing that the West can do about it (DĀESH), but sit and watch.” But it is the West itself who is the catalyst behind Daesh’s creation. As Noam Chomsky rightly puts it:

“The appearance of ISIS and the general spread of radical Jihadism is a fairly natural outgrowth of Washington wielding its sledgehammer at the fragile Muslim societies. The situation is a disaster for the US, and a natural result of its invasions. One of the grim consequences of US –UK aggression was to inflame sectarian conflict that are now tearing Iraq and Syria to shreds, and have spread over the whole region with awful consequences.”

The brutalities of ‘shock and awe’ committed on Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Ghaza, drew the ‘hate-line’ of frustration, despair and revenge and the consequential growth of resistance by Taliban, Dāesh, Hezbullah and Hammas. The world organizations and the Security Council remained almost passive spectators of brutalities committed on Muslim Societies. Therefore the West just cannot sit and watch. It has the responsibility to find “proper response, with balming effect, and not the bombings” which have caused such chaos, death and destruction to the Muslims of the world.

Dāesh comprises three elements, mainly – the Iraqi, Syrian and Saudi. The Iraqi group consists of Saddam’s disbanded army, supported by Iraqi Sunnis. They are the strongest of the three, being well trained and possess enough military hardware captured from the Iraqi military (INA). Their commander is Izzat Ibrahimi, and the target is the Iraqi regime. Ideologically they are close to Salafi school of thought. Their strength is estimated at 50,000 – 60,000. The Syrian group consists of The Syrian Opposition Army and the Moderate Opposition of Syria, who were trained and equipped by US and Sunni countries of the region, against the Syrian regime, now have joined Dāesh. Yet their primary target is the Syrian regime. Ideologically, they are close to the Salafis. Their strength is estimated at 30,000 – 40,000. The Saudi Group consists of the Wahabi dissidents, who oppose the Saudi regime, “because the Saudi government has modernized/ westernized and has drifted away from the puritan ways of the Wahabis.” There is a constant flow of Saudi dissidents joining the group. The strength of the group, commanded by Khoshgi is estimated at between 8,000–10,000.

These three components form the coalition under Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, who has declared himself Caliph. His primary aim is to establish the Islamic State over territories which once were part of the Ottoman Empire, but in 1920 were divided into several countries. Dāesh’s main asset is the perennial source of Jihadi volunteers, pouring in from around the world.

Beyond the Islamic State region, the Dāesh threat is likely to emerge in two forms. One may be the repeat of the Afghan jihad fall-out. After the defeat of the Soviets, 60,000 jihadis went back to their homelands except those who were considered dangerous and not allowed to return. They became non-citizens of the world, like Al-Qaeda and others, and still continue to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa and the Middle East. Something similar may happen in case of Dāesh, as the Jihadis from the US, UK, Europe and other countries start returning home, and there should be no bar on such returnees, because at home, they can be kept under watch. The ‘ideological threat’ to Muslim countries will be limited because countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan follow the “Dêobandi, Barelvi, Maliki, Qadria and Naqshbandi order, and are opposed to Dāesh ideology.

The world at large seems to have no viable option to deal with Dāesh. Air strikes and Kurd re-enforcements are weak responses and will prove counter productive. Therefore, it would be better to look at the problem dispassionately. The Dāesh are attempting to correct the wrongs done in 1920 and want to establish the Islamic State of the Levant. To grant them this right, is an option. Nearer at home, in Afghanistan the Taliban are trying to correct the wrongs done in 1979 and 2001. To grant them the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, is an option, because the ground realities suggest that with American forces leaving, the Taliban will prevail. The Afghan National Army (ANA) cannot stand-up against them.

The West has to accept these realities and correct the course, by looking deeper into the “heart of the matter”, i.e. abandoning the politico-ideological crusade which aims to transform Muslim societies into liberal/secular and modern entities.

Muslim societies during the last fourteen hundred years, have learnt to assimilate all such elements. Pakistan is a perfect example of a moderate Muslim Society, living peacefully with all schools of religious thought such as Kharji, Takfiri, Salfi, Wahabi, Qadri, Naqshbandi, Dêobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Sunni. But unfortunately, the “political-ideological crusade” has debased the very face of the moderate Muslim society of Pakistan. The West has to accept the reality and correct the course, for the good of all humanity.

The writer is a former chief of army staff.