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Why US and Russia Should Fight to Destroy Daesh Together After Nice Attack

© Sputnik / Andrey Stenin / Go to the photo bankFlag of the Islamic State in the conflict zone
Flag of the Islamic State in the conflict zone - Sputnik International
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As of the time of writing Daesh has not claimed the terrorist who perpetrated the Nice attack as one of their own.

That could be because he genuinely has no connection to the organisation. Or it could be because with the war in Syria and Iraq turning against Daesh the movement is starting to lose coherence. It seems their "news agency" has been unusually silent in the last few hours, which may suggest internal divisions within the organisation.

The Nice attack nonetheless re-emphasises what ought to be the overriding priority in international relations today: destroying Daesh, its so-called "Caliphate", and the Islamist al-Qaeda organisation of which they are the ghastly progeny.

Destroying Daesh is straightforward. All the indications are that it is deeply unpopular with those it rules. Its "Caliphate" is emphatically rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, and is a declaration of war on all other Arab and Muslim governments, whom Daesh thereby proclaims illegitimate. Its military forces are weak and scattered. The economic and technological resources at its disposal hardly qualify it as a serious state.

A man walks through debris scatterd on the street the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
'I Saw Bodies Lying Everywhere', Nice Truck Attack Eyewitness Tells Sputnik
The nature of the organisation and its ideology mean Daesh cannot survive loss of its territory or the capture or death of its leaders. Either would show to its followers that the organisation does not enjoy the favour of God (as it claims) and that its leader is not the Caliph of the Faithful of God. Given the extraordinary claims the organisation makes for itself — which are what inspire its followers — the organisation would not survive such a blow, which would leave its followers feeling betrayed.

Yet two years since Daesh's biggest victory — the capture of Mosul in Iraq — the organisation survives, preaching its message of hate and terror, drawing to itself violent misfits everywhere and inspiring their outrageous deeds. Even if the terrorist responsible for the Nice massacre was not connected to the organization, who seriously doubts that it is the climate of hate and terror it has created which ultimately inspired him to act as he did?

The reason Daesh survives is because Western governments and certain Muslim governments allied to them — especially those of Saudi Arabia and Turkey — have not give the goal of destroying Daesh the overriding priority it calls for. Instead their attention is focused elsewhere: in seeking confrontation in Europe with Russia, in the South China Sea with China, and in the Middle East with Iran and Syria. 

None of these countries — Russia, China, Iraq or Syria — are killing Westerners on Western soil or have shown the slightest intention of doing so. On the contrary all of them have at different times and in different ways reached out to the West with offers of cooperation, which the West has spurned.

Shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria (File) - Sputnik International
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The result is that instead of the single-minded effort to destroy Daesh that the situation calls for we have confusion, with the Western powers focused in Syria and Iraq not on fighting Daesh but on overthrowing President Assad and combatting Iranian influence.

Beyond Daesh is al-Qaeda, in some ways an even more dangerous enemy because its leaders — by not making the universalist claims Daesh makes — have not overreached themselves in the spectacular way Daesh once dd. Al-Qaeda, as authors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, remains responsible for the single greatest terrorist outrage perpetrated on any Western country since the end of the Second World War.

Here again however we see confusion and lack of purpose, with the Western powers and their Muslim allies in de facto alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria and Yemen and with the US even pressing Russia not to bomb al-Qaeda in Syria because it is allied in that country with the US's own allies.

This confusion and lack of purpose is prolonging the struggle against Islamist terrorist without good reason. That confusion and lack of purpose in turn means the Western powers bear a share of responsibility — however indirect — for the deaths in Nice and for the previous deaths in places like Brussels and Paris. 

The Western Powers urgently need to start asking themselves who their true enemies are and to stop acting against countries that want nothing from them save to be their allies in this struggle and their friends.

It is reported US Secretary of State Kerry has come to Moscow with an offer of cooperation and that he will propose a joint military campaign between the US and Russia — the first such between the countries — to destroy Daesh and al-Qaeda in Syria. It is to be devoutly hoped that is true. The very sad truth is that recent experience however makes one doubtful.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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