News coming out of the territory of the Islamic State has not been so good for them lately. Their “kingdom” has been shrinking rapidly. Military campaigns by the coalition of nations opposed to them have been chipping away at the Islamic State’s choke hold in Iraq and Syria, whittling their once broad domain down with vengeance. Now it seems that even their “capital city” of Raqqa is becoming unsafe for them. In Raqqa, however, it seems that it is not only military efforts that are weakening the group, it is the very people of the place. It’s getting ugly for ISIS in Raqqa because now the people are mounting a campaign against them. It’s not an organized, armed campaign like the French on the barricades of Paris in the 18th Century, but rather more like the Norwegians against the Nazis during World War II. It is being waged in doorways and alleys by the people of Raqqa, even the children, it seems, who write messages on walls declaring that the terrorists are no longer welcome, and ,more importantly, no longer feared. It is a most effective campaign and the only one that will last. Let me explain.
Intervention by and coalitions of, strong countries to rid others of unwanted invaders like ISIS in Iraq, or to defeat bothersome home grown groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan, can only do so much. They can have an immediate effect, deal stunning blows and even halt for a time the operations of such groups, but until the people being subjugated rise up, it is more like a bandage than a surgical procedure. It does not really get rid of the cause, treating only the surface manifestation.
As the people of Raqqa, buoyed by the pummeling ISIS is taking from many sides, have realized that the tiger may be made of paper, they have begun a home-style campaign of harassment to let their tormentors know they are no long welcome. They are taking back the day, and making the night more fearful for those they once feared. It is magnificent and it should be nurtured by those countries involved in the fight because it will produce the results that will bring lasting peace to such places.
This, unfortunately, rarely happens. Those great countries who rush to help in situations like Iraq or Afghanistan are usually focused only on the larger, military picture. When those goals are accomplished, the focus may sometime turns to large scale rebuilding efforts, but rarely does it ever turn to the people.
Such large scale actions are certainly beneficial, but they leave out a very important element. If those stronger countries do not purpose to impact the way the people think and act, it is most probable that nothing will really ever change. Get rid of ISIS and rebuild the infrastructure, but do nothing to help the people see that the power to make their lives stable, prosperous and peaceful is with them, and a group like ISIS will return. The cycle is deadly and is it avoidable. Empowering the people of countries like Afghanistan, helping them see that things will change if they do, is not politically incorrect, it is politically expedient.
The world should be watching closely as events in Raqqa play out. It should celebrate the courage of its residents and learn from them how countries now seemingly hopeless can be imbued with hope. The rest of the world should realize, though, that the hope necessary to truly effect positive change does not come from the outside. It comes from within; it comes from the people IF they believe in themselves and work together. The sad truth is that people who have been struggling with war and devastation often lose sight of that truth. The world must help them see that. The effect would be profound,
May God bless the citizens of Raqqa and give them the victory they are now earning,