Silver Linings: How ISIS Is Saving Us from a War with Russia

The+ISIS+flag.+It+states%2C+%22There+is+no+god+but+Allah+%5BGod%5D.+Mohammad+is+the+messenger+of+God%22.+Known+as+the+shahada%2C+this+sentiment+of+faith+is+widely+used+across+Islam.+

The ISIS flag. It states, “There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of God”. Known as the shahada, this sentiment of faith is widely used across Islam.

In Nov. 2014, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the Russian military would soon commence bomber patrols globally, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. According to US News, Shoigu said, “In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.” [1]

The news struck many Americans and their media outlets hard, as the new plans furthered recent tensions between the U.S and Russia. Since Russia’s invasion and ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, American officials have been butting heads with those of Russia’s. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) instituted heavy economic sanctions on Russia, which increased the conflict to a dangerous level. By last summer, America had both troops and heavy arms positioned in the Baltic States, and Russia had moved its military to its western borders, creating a standing front line which appeared as a sign to total trans-alliance war.

While tensions in eastern Europe heightened that spring, a second global threat grew in the Middle East. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) terror group gained control of Syrian city Raqqa. After this claim, ISIS proceeded to spread throughout Syria, gaining territory and recruits. By August, ISIS had gained enough land and power to be considered a global threat by American government; President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes on ISIS-controlled areas along with other members of NATO. These air raids first began outside of the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the ISIS movement had sparked a mass exodus. [2]

Both conflicts presented a great threat to global peace, especially in America, where the government has been known to have long-lasting tensions with both Russian leadership and terrorist groups (rightfully so). As the spherical influence of either power increased, it seemed like one, if not both, would soon reach its boiling point.

Then, in Oct. 2015, Russian Airlines flight 9268 crashed outside of the Sinai region of Egypt. After an investigation, Russian authorities declared the crash was the the product of a terrorist bomber, whose allegiance most likely laid with ISIS. Suddenly, both America and Russia had their militaristic sights off of each other and reset on the same target for the first time since Adolf Hitler’s Nazi army in WWII. The formation of ISIS, arguably the strongest terror group in history, has suppressed the Russian-NATO conflict and could possibly unite Russia with its western neighbors, exemplifying truth in the perennial Arabian saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The steps to unity have recently taken a positive turn, though at a great cost. After ISIS’s attacks in Paris last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he desires an alliance with France in the war with ISIS. This alliance, though not yet made official, would be the first between a NATO country and Russia.

This alliance could be a crucial buffer to future further tensions with Russia, as Putin clearly sees the NATO countries and their agendas as a threat. Over the past 15 years, 12 European countries have joined the organization, many of which were formally allies with Russia in the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact. With NATO territory now stretching as far as Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, Russian controlled land on the European side is nearing geographical isolation. Both NATO and Russia have been striving for the allegiance of those still independent European countries, such as Belarus and Ukraine. These countries are well aware of their situation, and in Ukraine, a civil war has recently erupted between pro-russian separatists, and those who are pro-NATO.

While the Russian military has been backing the separatist Ukrainian side from the east, the U.S. made the concerning political move to put 300 troops on the ground in the west. These Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, were sent to train the Western Ukrainian Army in April of 2015, putting American and NATO troops only miles away from pro-russian militants.

“It’s hard not to get emotionally involved,” Captain Nick Salimbene, 31, told NewsWeek. “The reality is that in a few months we’re going to be back in Italy, and these guys are going to be in the ATO [anti-terrorist operation, the Ukrainian name for the conflict area] staring down separatist tanks.” [3] Those separatist tanks are likely being provided by the Russian government. These steps to war, however, all took place before the bombing of Russian Airlines flight 9268 and the Paris attacks of November. Now, less than a year after the Ukrainian standoff began, Russia is reaching out to one of America’s closest allies for allegiance. ISIS’s attacks did their job in terrifying the world, but by doing so, they may have just united two of the powers they intended to corrupt.

But the governmental shift of aggression isn’t the only silver lining of the Islamic State’s horrific displays of terror. A shift of media attention has also occurred, pulling nations, whose opinions are comprised of their peoples, to the Middle East instead of Eastern Europe. As recently as April of this year, US News posted an article sub-headed, “A year of chaos in Ukraine has given Vladimir Putin plenty of practice in undermining the West.” Meanwhile, Russian news source RT.com, which covered the same event, titled its article, “Kissinger: ‘Breaking Russia has become objective for US.” RT.com is one of five Russian media outlets, all of which are controlled by the Russian government. While US News had a much more malicious article in its biased nature, it’s a private entity media outlet, unlike the government based RT.com. The subjective attacks by each country’s media reflected the tensions of either country’s executive leaders on the ground of Ukraine. [4, 5]

Last week, US News reported a story of Russia’s successful airstrikes in Syria, titled, “Russia Launches New Airstrikes in Syria.” RT.com also covered an American airstrike that week, titled, “Pentagon confirms airstrikes killed top ISIS & Al-Qaeda leaders in Libya, Somalia.” Both media outlets, which service opposing views in their nature, credited each other on successes in the war against terror – a war these two enemies are helping one another to win. [6, 7]

With the public’s eye off of Ukraine and the proposed French alliance looking to calm the storm between Russia and NATO, ISIS’s hope of world anarchy has most certainly backfired.

 

[1] http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/28/russia-tensions-move-closer-to-home

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/world/europe/russia-plane-crash-bomb.html

[3]http://www.newsweek.com/us-troops-prepare-ukraine-soldiers-russian-onslaught-331906

[4]https://www.rt.com/usa/312964-kissinger-breaking-russia-ukraine/

[5]http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/11/20/while-west-focuses-on-syria-ukraine-conflict-flares

[6]http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/12/08/russia-says-its-concerned-about-bombing-of-syrian-army-camp

[7]https://www.rt.com/usa/325022-pentagon-isis-leader-libya/