The raging debate of the rise of ISIS from bystanders is being thrown back and forth a lot lately. It is currently been split by the Left and the Right into to two popularized theories. The Left claim the rise of militant groups like ISIS is down to destabilization of Iraq by western foreign policy and NATO intervention, whilst the Right exclaim that ISIS are a result of medieval ideologies and barbaric violence which plagues the Islamic world. Both aren’t wrong and they are defintely contributing factors but these are flimsy, weak-sauce arguments that can be picked apart with ease. The Right’s argument of a bloody history leading to the the rise of such a militant force falls to pieces when we look at how brutal and horrific our own history is; while the Left’s assumptions do the same when we look at how many bad choices we’ve made when it comes to foreign policy. Saying this, I am not denouncing that these are not contributing factors, rather stating that these are symptoms of a much larger disease.
For ISIS to of become the threat they are today, ideology alone could not animate their beliefs into reality, nor is it able to sustain their military power. In September 2014 a CIA spokesman stated in the press that ISIS had an estimated 31,500 fighters spread across Iraq and Syria, with French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian giving the similar numbers of between 20,000 and 30,000 well equipped troops. ISIS believe in a form Wahhabism, an intolerant Islamic “reform movement” whose goal is to restore “pure monotheistic worship” to the middle east. This belief system ISIS has created has not become popular because of it’s validity, but because it is funded and supported through capitalist ventures. Without the money funneled into ISIS, it would have very little to offer other than its views. However, instead it has been able to garner vast materials and resources on top of its existing military power. Money has no morality and Profit no ethics, but what it does have is a a trail. The foundations of this form of Wahhabism lie within al-Qaeda where, in the 1970’s, Abdullah Azzam (Osama bin Laden‘s mentor) theorized it to justify the conflict between the Soviet Union and mujahideen cells who believed they were fighting for a pan-Islamist state idealism with the middle east returning to the golden age of Islam. This exploitation of Islam towards violence was justified like any other in time of war and was used to push back the Soviet invasion during the cold war. These mujahideen networks were trained and financed under the supervision of the CIA, MI6 and the Pentagon in Afghanistan, with Gulf countries also jumping in with Saudi Arabia giving $2 billion in funding. As well as this contribution from Arab countries, this new branch of Islamic fighters was provided yet another $2billion in funding by the Reagan administration (U.S).
These fighters were encouraged by both their US overseers and Gulf state backers to be increasingly violent against the communist forces in Afghanistan. It was during this period that USAID invested millions in sending text books teaching Arabs to “pluck out the eyes of the Soviet enemy and cut off his legs” stating that they would be rewarded for such acts. These textbooks were filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings justifying the violence against enemies of the mujahideen.
This sponsoring of extremism carried on over the years. In 1991 the U.S, U.K and its allies continued to put money first. In order to protect the financial economy, U.S. U.K and Saudi Arabia participated in a cover up where Saudi Arabia bargained with Osama bin Laden (who was at this point under house arrest) to let him leave the country as long as he kept attacks away from Saudi Arabia. This was due to the fact that the Saudi Arabian oil pipelines were key to the the global economy. The west turned a blind eye to bin Laden as long as its finances were protected. However, this was not pacifism to solely protect the economy, but for profit too. From 1994 up to 9/11, U.S intelligence forces as well as Britain & Saudi Arabia were covertly selling weapons to al-Qaeda. These crimes dd not go unnoticed, and in 1997 Amnesty international raised their concerns about the close political ties between U.S and the Taliban militia. One account reported that religious schools which had been set up by Britain, United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan during the the Islamic resistance of the cold war were now being used by Taliban militia to indoctrinate school children using the same graphic text books America had supplied Afghanistan during its proxy combat with the Soviets.
Even after the horrors of 9/11 attacks U.S and 7/11 in London U.K, the western coalition still capitalized on extremism in the middle east. It now set its eyes on cheap fossil fuels as a profitable expansion to capitalism using various extremist groups to undermine Iranian influence in the region by financing sponsored terrorist attacks on Shiite Muslims. These attacks were not only meant to damage USA’s rival Iran, but also weaken Syria due to its allegiance with Russia and China. Similar tactics were used in Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime after which European, British and American oil giants easily took advantage of commercial opportunities to choke Russian producers who were currently dominating the gas supply.
This participation and sponsoring of violence across the middle east still continues. If we look at where most assume ISIS started (Syria), it is where for the last 5 years now Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and Turkey have transparently provided financial and military support to al-Qaeda linked Islamist networks which formulated the rebel forces that would soon make up a majority of ISIS. We also saw the west take advanatage of the untapped oil pipelines within Syria where former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas revealed that in 2009, British Foreign Office officials had stated that UK forces were already active in Syria, attempting to cause a rebellion which we know now led to the destablization of the regional area and contributed to our current migrant crisis within Europe. Attacks like the one that has recently struck Paris happen becuase we continue to pay for it. Trade and commerce happily ignore creatures like ISIS as long as our country is able to profit while manipulating Arab countries to ensure our poltical dominace over precious resources. We only need to look to our EU and NATO allyTurkey to see evidence of this – a country we happily trade and negotiate with despite their smuggling ISIS through their borders as revealed through reporter Serena Shim. In 2014 Shim revealed that ISIS were openly moving through Turkish borders in vehicles desguised as NGO trucks. Turkish journalist Denis Kahraman interviewed an ISIS militant in a Turkish hospital who claimed: “Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large number of our mujahedeen [jihadis] received medical treatment in Turkey.” The biggest irony of this is that G20(2015) has just been held in Turkey where western polticians shared a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks.
The coverage of the recent Paris attacks is now being used by western polticians to reinforce the same values it has always had since the cold war. Hijacking this tragedy to only reinforce a capatalist expansion across the globe. These militant fighters within the death cult of ISIS despite being deplorable, are nothing but pawns in a geo poltical game of colonialism. The entrenched violence that looms in islamic countries has been paid for by the west and its allies all throughout history, manipulating young Arabs for decades to become violent, only to then turn round and condemn them for being that way. This “Rise of ISIS” is not new and UK and U.S tax payers have been sponsering it abroad for years to where now, white middle class people turn there backs on civilians within the region who have suffered due to the west’s actions within their countries. If you want to know why ISIS is doing what they are doing, and where they came from, you need only look into the mirror. The cancer that is ISIS was bred in a petrie dish by the western world and its capitalist views of the world. Since Friday’s attack, France’s president has vowed “war” on ISIS and today significantly escalated the country’s bombing campaign in Syria. Who profits? Western captalism of course, with arms companies sales sky rocketing with Lock Heed Martin, Northrop Grumman corporations, Raytheon Company and France’s largest arms manufacturer, Thales seeing huge increase in orders. To defeat cults like ISIS we must first start with the cult of capitalism.