End Game

End Game

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2190-7.ch005
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Introduction

In August 2016, King Mohammed VI of Morocco spoke to his mixed religious society asking,

Is it conceivable that God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate could order someone to blow up himself or kill innocent people….[these people perverting the word of the Quran] are actually lying to Allah and His Messenger (Haddadin, 2016).

The Moroccan King, who is believed to be a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammad, joins a growing list of Islamic leaders in the MENA region to publicly denounce the violence perpetrated by IS in the name of religious sanctity, including King Abdullah II of Jordan as recently as September 25, 2016 (Haddadin, 2016). The Islamic State has foundational roots in Jordan with al-Zarqawi, one of the leaders being born in the country, and the nation becoming linked to terrorism that was exposed by a botched prisoner exchange between a Jordanian fighter pilot and a Japanese reporter for a female suicide bomber jailed by Jordan and at least one other prisoner. The fighter pilot was burned to death by the Islamic State in January 2015, which triggered an intense and visceral reaction to the terror organization by the public and the government, with the Jordanian government ordering three consecutive days of airstrikes on IS.

The public renouncement of IS, the vision of the caliphate, and reiteration that the group wholly perverts Islamic principles as well as slaughters indiscriminately is a narrative that must be encouraged and repeated, not just in the Middle East but around the world. Counter narratives to the Islamic State’s call to jihad in order to build their utopia that is spread by prominent Muslim leaders, ideologues, and the civil society will help to combat the number of young Muslims who will be unduly enamored by IS propaganda. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted, “Arab nations play a critical role, the leading role in the effort to repudiate, once and for all, the dangerous and insulting distortion of Islam that IS propaganda attempts to spread around the world” (Szep, 2014). The ‘end game’ with the Islamic State is tricky to diagnose, and even more difficult to envision in the current political environment.

As many military and political officials have acknowledged, the conflict with the Islamic State is going to require more than a combat mission to dismantle the physical boundaries and legitimacy of the state. Yet, as this author has noted and Haddadin (2016) succinctly concludes,

The state is not clear about where it stands, what message it wants to convey, what efforts have been made to confront and remedy social division and extremism, and the role of media in rebutting the fanatic discourse to maintain moderation, if any, especially putting an end to extremism and hate speech toward the other,

as has been argued throughout this volume.

The indifference displayed and ineffective programs implemented by Western governments to combat internet-enabled terrorist content and conversation has arguably set the effort to “ultimately degrade and destroy IS” (Obama, 2014) back considerably. It is clear that Western governments have not learned a valuable lesson from the exceedingly long War on Terror: that you can flesh out and eliminate an enemy’s headquarters, training camps, and hiding places but you cannot carpet bomb an ideology, religious fanaticism, or simply opposition to certain types of governance (including democracy or adherence to the policies of a Western-dominated global market economy).

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