Two of Jordan’s top pro-al-Qaida ideologues Abu Qatada and Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi have been commiserating and Jordan’s priorities appear to have shifted because of the mounting threat posed by the Islamic State group, an al-Qaida offshoot that has seized large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq, sending shivers through the kingdom.
Abu Qatada and al-Maqdisi have denounced some of the group’s practices as un-Islamic and has brought an onslaught of followers from these preachers who after their release from prison had nothing to do with politics.
But the clerics’ outspokenness points to ways the U.S.-led fight against the group is upending old assumptions in the Middle East. At the core of issue: the Islamic State group is viewed by some regional players as an existential threat, creating an unlikely mix of allies and reshaping regional priorities.
Longtime enemies such as the US and Iran now find themselves fighting a common enemy, as do Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds. Arab states, such as Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, have at least temporarily put aside their differences in the fight against the militants.
One-time rivals view the Islamic State as a threat to their national security interests. This purported coalition has quickly grown since the U.S. first launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq followed by bombardments in Syria this month.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan have participated in attacks in Syria, while Qatar hosts an air base used by the coalition. France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Britain are among European countries contributing to U.S. efforts to hit the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The shakeup of alliances is perhaps most dramatic in Syria, ravaged by a civil war between President Bashar Assad’s troops and Sunni Muslim-led rebels, including Islamic State fighters and al-Qaida’s local branch, the al-Nusra front.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar appear to be the most active supporters of the armed opposition seeking to topple Assad. How long they are willing to do so is unclear. Qatar’s participation in the coalition is significant. It has been under mounting political pressure over its backing of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its ties with Hamas.
It might be a grand facade but on the surface a brotherhood of enemies are coming together to fight a greater foe, a greater threat. For example to push the GCC (alliance of six Gulf states) together against the Sunni extremists in Syria. No matter what however, expect a long fight against these Islamic State militants.
Hopefully, we will also see by shifting the priority to destroying the Islamic State group is also creating new opportunities for indirect collaboration, even with sworn enemies. We cannot overlook each countries independent agendas and be on watch.
What we are fighting is not just a terrorist organization, but the embodiment of a malicious ideology that must be defeated in its entirety. The ideology of ISIS is the greatest danger that the world will face in the next decade. They must be erased and our enemies must be carefully monitored. Our country must not bend, break or bow. NEVER SURRENDER!