A French journalist, Nicolas Henin, who had been held hostage by ISIS for 10 months offers a radical idea of winning the fight against ISIS. Having spent 10 months with ISIS, I would think that Henin’s would have a very good insider’s perspective. And this is what he has to say: “The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side.”
Henin adds that air strikes in Syria represent “a trap” for Britain and other members of the international community. He explained that the air strikes weren’t hurting the militants. Rather, they were pushing people into the hands of ISIS.
Instead, what really dealt a blow to ISIS was the way Europe offered homes to Muslim refugees fleeing from Syria. Henin said: “Hundreds of thousands of refugees, fleeing this Muslim land that is like a dream for Isis – that is supposed to be their Israel? And fleeing that land to go to the land of the ‘unbelievers’?” He further explained, “What we have to do – and this is really key – is we have to engage the local people. As soon as the people have hope for a political solution, the Islamic State will just collapse.” In other words, we need to address the fundamental reason why people are drawn to the ISIS – they feel that only ISIS can give them hope for a better future.
Unfortunately, acting with such humanity is far more difficult than just dropping tons of bombs on innocent civilians. I am not saying that there should not be any military options. But it cannot be the ONLY option. In fact, it should be the last option. And even then, it should be adopted alongside a far greater humanitarian effort. Only then can we truly rid the roots of this ISIS problem. However, doing this would take immense strength, courage, wisdom, compassion. Something which people like Donald Trump and Calvin Cheng have in short supply, if at all.
Let’s hope that more leaders listen to Henin and find the humanity within them to do the right thing.
[Featured image: Screen shot of interview of Nicolas Henin taken from Independent.co.uk]