Fight extremism, not just ISIS

The mayhem in the Middle East is not about sectarianism, but sectarian divides and prejudices do play a major role.

Ready, Aim, Fire. Not Fire, Ready, Aim. –

The current drive by the Obama administration to unite Sunni and Shia powers in the region against ISIS, the group that everyone supposedly hate in equal terms, will not succeed, because by ignoring the atrocities that Assad and Hezbollah have been perpetrating in Syria before ISIS showed up on the scene, and because both are pillars of the Shia axis in the region, the administration, with its suborn refusal to act against Assad coupled with its current single-minded focus on ISIS, will be perceived as supporting the Shia Axis. The ongoing negotiations with Iran and the reconciliatory tone that many administration officials have assumed in her regard will strengthen that impression.

In order to carry out a successful regional intervention, the message that should be championed by the Administration and the policies that should be implemented should focus on combating extremism itself, ending mass slaughter and bringing culprits to justice. This requires fighting both ISIS and Al-Nusra on the Sunni side, and Assad and his loyalist militias on the Shia side. You cannot convince the Sunni Axis to take on the extremist on their side, while those on other side continue to flourish. Similarly, you cannot convince the leaders of the Shia Axis to give up so easily on a precious ally. Still, they might agree to restructure their camp in Syria in a move that could include ouster of Assad and some of his top officers. This could prove to be a step in the right direction towards something better for all Syrians.