Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Onward Christian Soldiers

A Russian Orthodox bishop blesses Russian Air Force missiles on 15 August at the Morozovsk Air Base. (Russian Media)

At the heart of defeating ISIS is undermining the group’s narrative about injustice that has befallen the world’s Muslims, especially the Sunnis. Before exiting Iraq, the Bush administration went to great lengths to rebalance a Sunni-Shia status quo, an exercise that the Obama administration — naturally biased toward Iran — has miserably failed to maintain.


The outbreak of the Syrian revolution reinforced a Sunni narrative that the world is conspiring in favor of the Shiites, mostly Iran and its proxies: the Iraqi government, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.


Sunni victimhood is, in and of itself, a rallying cry for ISIS that appeals to young Sunnis worldwide.


And as if American shortsightedness on subcontracting control of Levantine and Iraqi Sunnis to Iran was not enough, the Russians have added insult to injury. Moscow not only takes sides against any country, organization or entity with a Sunni majority, it often lumps all Sunnis into one category of Islamist terrorists. Russia even sent its priests to bless the missiles that its fighter jets rained down on Syrians. If the Russian war on Syria looks like a Christian war against Islam, so be it. Russian President Vladimir Putin loves his image as the world’s toughest bully.


Other Christian and Jewish forces have also expressed similar preferences, though in a more subtle way than Putin. Rightwing Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attended a gathering in Washington last year to tell the congregating Christians there to ally with Israel against terrorists (read: Middle Eastern Sunnis). He thinks beating ISIS is a priority over toppling Assad.


Even the famous former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, a knowledgeable American figure, wrote that it is in America’s interests to prioritize defeating ISIS over toppling Assad, and that the US should make sure Assad stays to prevent terrorists (also read: Sunnis) from taking his place.


In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Kissinger called for a federal state in Syria divided between the Sunnis and the Alawites. Such an arrangement, according to the 92-year-old former politician, would protect American interests and prevent genocide against Alawites. Whatever happens to Sunnis, who have already suffered massacres, does not seem to bother the Jewish American, himself a refugee displaced by Nazi crimes in Europe.


It is no wonder that ISIS’s first order of the day has been to deepen the divide between Sunnis of Iraq and Syria and other communities. The more Christians ISIS kills, enslaves or displaces, the more enraged the world becomes against — not ISIS, but Sunnis.


The world seems to care about Syria’s Alawites, Christians and ancient ruins, but not about its Sunnis. America’s rightwing Christian politicians make it look as if the world and Putin are all partners in this crusade against the Sunnis, which, thanks to the internet, makes it easy for ISIS to recruit young Sunni men and women around the world.


Justice is the basis of peace, whether civil peace within states or world peace. Putin and Iran have been crying foul against Western injustice — real or imagined — for decades. Likewise, ISIS has been rallying Sunnis who feel that their brethren in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are facing massacres.


Throughout the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Arab states spent decades arguing that a just solution was the key to Middle Eastern problems. Starting 1979, Iran jumped on the Palestinian injustice bandwagon and used it as a rallying cry to build formidable militias like Lebanon’s Hezbollah.


Eventually, Washington caught up with the Arab narrative. Since 1987, every US administration — Democrat and Republican — has made the Arab-Israeli peace process the centerpiece of its Middle Eastern policy in the belief that justice makes it hard for agitators who thrive on narratives of victimhood.


Today, 16 months after the beginning of the US-led war on ISIS, Putin, his priests and their crosses, and his minority coalition that is targeting Sunnis have all wiped out whatever progress America made between 2008 and 2010 in the War on Terror.


Restoring justice in the Middle East is key to defeating ISIS. Everything else, from air raids to combating ISIS’s message, comes second. As long as the war against ISIS looks like a crusade against Sunnis, the defeat of the notorious terrorist group will remain elusive.


Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai. He tweets @hahussain

A Russian Orthodox bishop blesses Russian Air Force missiles on 15 August at the Morozovsk Air Base. (Russian Media)

America’s rightwing Christian politicians make it look as if the world and Putin are all partners in this crusade against the Sunnis, which, thanks to the internet, makes it easy for ISIS to recruit young Sunni men and women around the world."

  • Qadi

    Spot on

    October 27, 2015

  • elisa.campioni.9

    exactly what's going on

    October 26, 2015

  • pao

    your site is falling more and more every day. some articles are really pathetic, as this one. have you just finished high school? do You know the history and current affairs? or do it just for interest, for money you sell? better you go back to school and study more

    October 24, 2015

  • real prophet

    Thumbs up

    October 24, 2015

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Long before the current bloodbath in Syria, the Sunnis have been wrecking the world with proselytizing radical Sunni Wahhabi Islam in the four corners of the world. They actually started with Lebanon in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Their trajectory was unimpeded and was actually supported by the West who needed Saudi (i.e. Sunni) oil and hence was disinclined to stand up to the newly oil-wealthy Sunnis. It continued in Afghanistan where, despite the fact that the West aided the Taliban Sunnis against the Soviets, the Sunnis turned against the West, the ingrates that they are. I think things changed in September 11, when Sunnis brought down New York. The Saudis and their poodles never really measured the unintended consequences of their spreading Wahhabi Sunni Islam around the world and the terrorism they spawned in the name of the Caliphate, and now the terrorist beast they have created is out of control and they have no idea how to stop it. Please, don't pretend not to know the organic and historic link between the Saudi Wahhabi empire and its tentacles on one hand, and Al-Qaeda, Daesh and all the other Islamic terror groups on the other. It was all about funding, building mosques and Qur'an-memorization madrassas, and launching all the mad Sunni preachers of hate around the world. That does not mean that Hezbollah and Shiite fundamentalism are any different. They are not. They are one and the same, with the difference that Shiite radicalism is a reaction to Sunni radicalism, coming on its heels, and given its numbers does not pose the same threat as Sunni radicalism. I, for one, abhor Iran and Hezbollah. But reason and maths tell me that the threat they pose is significantly less than the Sunni / Wahhabi / Saudi threat. Like the West, given a choice between two evils, one chooses the least evil.

    October 23, 2015

  • Beiruti

    Agree totally!

    October 24, 2015