From time to time, regional and international reports are issued to warn of the return of ISIS after its defeat and the loss of its last stronghold in Baghouz, Syria, as well as the consequences of this on the national security of the East and the West alike. However, these reports have not been able to provide timely solutions to disrupt or prevent such return.
The United States, which led an international coalition to fight against ISIS, announced months ago that the organization was no longer in Syria. However, after a short period of time, the organization’s rats started to come out of their holes and threaten the world, meaning that another round of battle must be fought to cut off terrorism in Syria.
In a report issued by the Rojava Information Center on terrorism research, the war on terror has not been won, and the next stage is the most important. “If the world really wants to defeat ISIS, it needs to look to North East Syria,” the report said.
There is a global debate about how to deal with ISIS, but the most important voices are not heard – the voices of the local population who have lost 11,000 of their sons and daughters to ISIS and are still on the front lines of the ongoing struggle to eliminate the terror organization.
The first phase of confronting the organization defeated ISIS thanks to the military campaign led by the international coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); however, the group remains a daunting threat.
The threat is due not only to the pockets of territory ISIS controls in Syria, but in the way it had imposed its five years of occupation in Syria, making their violent and extremist ideas binding on the society and gaining open and secret support from multiple sectors.
Now northeastern Syria is facing a growing insurgency from ISIS sleeper cells, along with the burden of thousands of foreign ISIS elements and their families under the responsibility of the Kurds.
The report noted that ISIS elements are without a doubt building themselves up again, sending individual attackers as lone wolves to Europe with the aim of carrying out more attacks around the world.
The Defense Post report
Meanwhile, a report from The Defense Post stated, “ISIS must be uprooted here, in the region where it burst into life. The world relied on North East Syria to lead the struggle against ISIS as a military force. Now, North East Syria needs the world to help it in the next, decisive stage.”
According to the report, the most pressing issue in confronting ISIS remnants is that the European countries assume their responsibility and role in this conflict, deal with the thousands of foreign fighters detained by the SDF, and resolve the humanitarian crisis at the Hol refugee camp, where 11,500 women and children affiliated with ISIS are being held.
“These prisons and camps are ticking time-bombs, where ISIS’s most hardline militants live and plot together, and fanatic mothers indoctrinate rapidly-aging children,” the report said.
According to the laws of sovereign countries, they can choose in what way they deal with their citizens who have joined ISIS, without prolonging the situation in the court of the Kurdish forces – which will not last long – or resorting to the establishment of an international tribunal for ISIS elements in North East Syria.
“What is untenable is to abandon them here as a burden on the Autonomous Administration, close their eyes and hope in vain that the problem goes away,” the report notes.
The report suggested that the northeastern are of Syria (Baghouz and Deir al-Zour) be dealt with through a broader program of support that will lead to redevelopment, peace and stability in the region, enabling refugees to leave camps that quickly become hot spots for terrorism and replace them with democratic society in northeastern Syria, while psychological support and education programs should be developed to deal with the ISIS ideology.
The report pointed out that there are exciting ideas being developed in northeastern Syria to overcome such obstacles as activating women’s education programs in Raqqa and Deir Al-Zour and the importance of supporting these programs through international cooperation, which will only be possible if North East Syria be given political status and recognized as a key and legitimate partner in the war against ISIS.
“The Kurds have set up an effective society to get out of the ashes of the Syrian war and a society that can thrive if the international community lifts the embargo and sanctions,” says Michael Rubinn, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
“The time has come to stop treating the Kurds as a diplomatic football; they have won their place on the table, and they have more credibility than others to form a post-ISIS future,” he said.
Required international solidarity
“The use of military force to confront ISIS was the first stage, but this stage must be followed by another stage that has political and economic dimensions,” said Ahmad Kamel al-Behiri, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Behiri said that the next phase in the fight against ISIS in the northeastern region of Syria, which is currently the most dangerous focus, “is more complex than security solutions, because it is linked to political dimensions, the interference of regional parties such as Turkey and Iran, the situation of the Kurds and their relationship with the Damascus government in the future,” adding that “the financial cost of reconstruction and development of northeastern Syria needs international cooperation and effort and is subject to international accounting, but fundamentally needs a political solution in which all parties are fully convinced that ISIS will not come into position again.