It has been a week full of major tragedies around the world. From the attacks in Paris and Beirut to the hostage situation in Mali, we have seen several coordinated terrorist attacks on a scale not seen since 9/11. There have been multiple commentaries on these issues and some laying the blame squarely on the Western nations and the United States. There have also been negative reactions, especially in the United States, towards the issue of Syrian refugees. Yet, a lot of what is being said is either retrospective or prospective. People looking for reasons to why and people looking for actions to take next…
Here, I want to give my own short take on this issue. There is no doubt that this conflict is violent and militaristic in nature but the issue centers around the economy – the financial ability of the Islamic State to sustain itself. Islamic State controls large swathes of territory across Iraq, Iran, and Syria and have a source of income that allows them to administer their governance and their military operations. A large part of that income appears to come from oil, sex trade, ransoms, and agriculture. Oil as the fuel for war, especially in the Middle East, is nothing new. Much like the Second Gulf War in 2003, the solution appears to be the destruction of infrastructure: bombing oil fields and oil tankers. Is it really a good idea? With much of the region’s economy dependent on oil, what happens after Islamic State is destroyed? Has anyone given thought to the political, economic, and environmental consequences of such destruction? Has anyone thought about the devastating environmental impact of bombing oil fields?
For the most part, the majority of the people under IS control are innocent. Yet, this sort of destruction and retaliation by the West, is exactly what drives the youth to join in the extremist movement. How can anyone be alright with the destruction of their livelihood and of their environment? Furthermore, most of the refugees are those who are fleeing these conditions and yet they are turned back by those nations who are causing such destruction in the name of freedom.
Is there no other way? Large-scale airstrikes and military operations targeting infrastructure is the most obvious and easiest plan of action, but is there no other way? Even if the other ways are harder, if they leave the region with a sustainable economy and potential for stability and growth, won’t it make the world a safer place for all?