Viewpoint: Focus on offshoots of Al-Qaida, not IS

Eric Vining
Eric Vining

By Eric Vining
Web Editor

The Middle East has always been a politically and religiously volatile region. Whether you stick to recent history or look toward the past, you will see a region stricken with a variety of wars and issues that need to be addressed by not only countries in these areas, but also the West and other developed countries throughout the world.

The most obvious concern of the region now is the rapid insurgency of the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS and, most recently, ISIL). The Islamic State is a powerful jihadist Islamic force that has the ability to exert great pressure in the Levant region and the greater Middle East.

The group currently controls large swatches of rural land in both Iraq and Syria, and poses a major threat to stability in this area of the Levant region of the Middle East. The U.S. and its Western allies have been correct in their continued assertion that the Islamic State group is a problem that must be dealt with before time runs out and the group begins to overpower established governments in the Middle East region.

Though it is incredibly important for the media to cover the activities of the Islamic State and allow for the knowledge of their atrocities to be known by the public, there is a much larger picture to the Middle East problem that is being ignored, in part because of the influx of coverage on the Islamic State issue.

While the Islamic State continues to dominate headlines in the United States and throughout Europe, other auxiliary groups continue to gain more power and influence in this volatile region of the world.

Gone are the days when the War on Terror was simply the U.S. and its allies fighting Al-Qaida.

Today, there are numerous offshoots of Al-Qaida that are vying for control of various regions of the Middle East.

The most recent instance of this is with Khorasan, a group that has been described by National Intelligence Director James Clapper as being “just as much a threat to national security as ISIL.” As an offshoot and possible affiliate of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group operates alongside operatives in Yemen to recruit Westerners with American and European passports. These recruits are then sent to their home counties to commit acts of terror in the name of Al-Qaida.

Though the U.S. and its allies have put measures in place to combat these groups and continue the fight in the Global War on Terror, what they’re doing is simply not enough. In fact, our country’s current policy of being “one foot in, one foot out” in the War on Terror causes these splinter groups to form and spread jihad further in the region.

It is always important for Americans to be educated in politics. But today, it is more important than ever that Americans know and understand what is currently happening in the Middle East and South East Asia.

As the central point for the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, the events of the region will affect American policy both domestically and abroad. To think otherwise is to deny how globalized our world has become over the past 30 years.

Eric Vining is a sophomore journalism and political science double major from Houston. He is the Web editor for the Lariat.