Politically unstable Syria is a perfect breeding ground for Daesh

Delay in finding a permanent solution to political crisis in Syria could bring chaos back to the country and the region.



By Christiane Waked

Published: Sat 24 Aug 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Aug 2019, 10:27 PM

After talks with UN special envoy Geir Pedersen in Geneva, the Chinese special envoy Xie Xiaoyan told journalists last week that the international community must not disregard the 'warning signals'. He also spoke of an awakening of terrorist organisations including Daesh in Syria.
The Chinese envoy's concerns are legitimate. Delay in finding a permanent solution to political crisis in Syria could bring chaos back to the country and the region.
After the fall of Baghouz, the final holdout of Daesh in Syria, the world thought that the terrorist group that once controlled and proclaimed a caliphate over a territory which was once the size of Britain is finally finished.
It's true, the chances of Daesh controlling a territory in Syria or Iraq like the one it had before are minimal but this doesn't mean that they cannot mobilise the 18,000 estimated remaining fighters in the aforementioned countries.
Moreover, the return of foreign fighters captured by Kurds is also becoming a pressing issue. Last month, American President Donald Trump urged his European allies to take back their citizens who fought with Daesh. But his call was rejected and about 800 such foreign fighters are languishing in jails.
The international community is refusing to take back foreign fighters, and this could arguably lead to a future resurgence. The Kurds who control Al Hol camp situated in northeast Syria don't have the means to supervise the whole camp of around 70,000 people including Daesh fighters and their families.
This overcrowded, untenable camp risks becoming a fertile ground for extremist ideology to enlist new recruits.
According to a recent research conducted by the United Nations, the people of Al Hol camp "could pose a threat if they are not treated appropriately."
Syria is at a risk and so is Iraq especially after future withdrawal of the United States military from northeastern Syria.
History might repeat itself, Daesh could again gather strength and spread like cancer, affecting not only Syria and Iraq but the region on the whole.
According to recent military reports, Daesh is reorganising itself in Syria and Iraq and the recent nomination of Abdullah Qardash as the successor of the Daesh leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, as it was mentioned by Daesh's Amaq news agency, makes us think that the terrorist organisation is up to something.
On another hand, according to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, Daesh still has the means to finance itself and the extremist group has been left with around $300 million after the loss of its 'caliphate' in both Iraq and Syria.
This means the terrorist group can still pursue arms and continue to terrorise the world with brutal attacks.
Investigations must be launched to see if the group was able to smuggle the money into neighbouring countries, and we must also find out where all Daesh has invested its money. The claims that Daesh has poured funds in businesses such as car dealing, fish farming, etc. must be taken seriously and the flow of money must be stopped.
The international community must help find solutions to this problem. It is not just Syria and Iraq that will suffer with the rise of Daesh, but the repercussions will be experienced far and wide. Also, more attacks and rise of extremist activities often lead to exodus of people from their homes. As long as there is terror in these countries, refugees will never dare to go back to their homelands. Countries such as Lebanon and Jordan that have welcomed millions of refugees are facing critical financial problems and Lebanon is almost at the brink of bankruptcy.
With a population of about four million, Lebanon hosts the greatest concentration of refugees per capita in the world (more than 40 per cent of the demographic mass of Lebanon). This has created an overwhelming pressure on the country's utilities and stability. Nearly 2.5 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Palestine have found refuge in Lebanon. A political solution in Syria is a must to secure the whole region otherwise the refugees in Lebanon, for instance, have no choice but to turn to the West.
As long as there are groups like Daesh or Al Qaeda the Middle East and the world on the whole are not safe.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut


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