How to Understand and Fight ISIS

02/09/2015 09:40 am ET | Updated Apr 11, 2015

Every person of good will should pray for the American female hostage held by ISIS, hoping that she is still alive, despite the announcement by the murderers that she was killed by a Jordanian airstrike. Believing a terror group is always a gamble, and personally I tend to think that the poor woman could be dead by now. I trust that my readers believe me, that I will be happy to be proven wrong. However, she may NOT have been killed by the Jordanians. The reference to the Jordanians is a crude, not so sophisticated attempt to provoke troubles between the allies, Jordan and the US. ISIS psychological warfare is altogether not so creative, as it is simply designed to instill fear among its enemies, but more importantly, intended to send a signal to the fanatic core of Jihadists everywhere, along the lines of ''Shufuni al-Nas [look at us people], we are the one and only Muslim group which fights the enemies, the infidels and their Muslim accomplices, without ANY reservation, any moral inhibition." In a way, this is intentionally the cruelest message, exactly because ISIS wants those who are ready to do EVERYTHING, and there are no millions, nor hundreds of thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands of them, to know that they can do it when joining ISIS.

Here is a weakness number one of the international coalition fighting ISIS, and this is the failure to stem the flow of volunteers to ISIS. Not much can be done to prevent the enforced mobilization of those who have the misfortune of living in the areas under their control in Syria and Iraq, but much more can be done to prevent the crossings of the borders of the neighboring countries, let alone restricting the freedom of movement of those which are on the watch list in Western countries. A state of emergency requires steps of emergency, cooperation between countries on an international basis. Actions not words, and let us imagine how more effective all this could be if a country like Turkey REALLY cooperated with the anti ISIS coalition.

Cooperation should lead to coordination of policies, to an acknowledgement by all relevant actors participating in the anti ISIS struggle, that if the division is between "moderate" Muslims and the fanatical Jihadists, and this is a right division, then the Jihadists are all those who support the use of violence, even if they call themselves a "political" wing of one or another group. A delegation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood [MB] just visited the US, meeting officials in the State Department. The Egyptian government, which is locked in a life or death battle with the Jihadists in the Sinai, went crazy, not a surprise there, but their protests were disrespectfully brushed aside. MB as a political movement at a time when in Egypt they support the Ansar Bayit Al Makdas [the self-styled Egyptian wing of ISIS]? At least the Al-Sisi government is not playing this game anymore, and they declare Hamas to be a terror group, and they know why. If there continue to be attempts to hide behind the bush, making all kinds of artificial distinctions between "political" and "military" wings of terror organizations, we shall witness, and not in the distant future, such a distinction made about ISIS. A science fiction? Not really, ask some American and European "peace" centers how eager they already are to dialogue with the "moderate," "reasonable" wing of ISIS.

Those who do not believe that this is going to be the shape of things to come should decide, and quickly, on the next stage of the campaign against ISIS. This is the time to start a ground campaign against the terrorists. They are not invincible, in fact their performance in the ground battles against the Kurdish Pesh Merga and the Yazidis in Northern Iraq indicate that those who are not unduly overwhelmed by the propaganda machine of ISIS can deal with them effectively. The battle of Kubani is just one indication, and not the only one. When reading the accounts of the Kurds and Yazidis , one can see that the Jihadist motivation is there, but not enough to win. Those who fight ISIS can have the same motivation, if not higher, and the displays of mass outrage in Jordan can serve notice to that effect. The question is whether Jordan now is ready to stand behind its words, and send ground forces; I, for one, doubt it. Political will is not acquired only by statements or by the supremacy of the desire for revenge. I doubt whether King Abdallah really believes that ISIS poses a potential existential threat to his regime. President Al-Sisi in Egypt believes it, and more and more Egyptian troops are thrown to the battle, and they will prevail.

The question of a ground campaign involves mostly two countries, Turkey and the US. The first needs to allow what it refused to do in the Iraq campaign of 2003, which is for Nato forces [Turkey is a member state of Nato] to move from its territory to Syria and Iraq, something that that new "Sultan" Erdoghan refuses to do. The US still is committed not to engage in a ground campaign, and so long as that is the case, ISIS gets an extended lease of life which they do not deserve to have. We are in for a prolonged battle, one that can still be shortened.