During the Republican National Convention in America, the former mayor of New York and a prominent ally of Trump Rudy Giuliani said “We must not be afraid to define our enemy… It is Islamic extremist terrorism! …You know who you are! And we’re coming to get you!”
And now, after Trump has been elected as president and has announced the selection of some of his candidates for the important positions within his administration, there is more talk of Trump’s vision concerning Islamists. Especially as there is frequent talk about the possibility that Trump and the Russian President will cooperate on the coalition to fight ISIS in Syria. Is this a cause for concern? To answer this question, we must first distinguish between Muslims and Islamists. Likewise, we must understand that not all Islamists are terrorists.
What we should be mindful of is that since the Syrian Revolution, Assad’s regime, Iran and the Russians are trying to portray all members of Assad’s opposition as Sunni Islamist terrorists. This propaganda has succeeded in the western media, especially after the emergence of ISIS and amid the startling absence of talk about the role of other Shiite Islamist terrorists.
Therefore, we should not be concerned with what the new American administration is saying about combating and tackling the “Islamic extremist terrorists” that Giuliani talked about. Rather, we should be concerned with the need to convince Trump and his administration to act against all terrorists, Sunni and Shia alike, in order to ensure the success of the war on terrorism which Trump has put at the top of his priorities. It is important that Trump and his administration are made aware that Sunni and Shia extremists are two sides of the same coin and that there is no difference between what ISIS is doing and what Shiite militias affiliated to Iran are doing. Both of them are torturing the innocent even though they have different motives.
It must be explained to Trump’s administration that it cannot say that Al-Nusra Front is a terrorist organisation whilst saying that Hezbollah and the Houthis are just armed groups that call for liberation. This is because Al-Nusra Front’s justifications are the same as those of Hezbollah and the Houthis, and all of these groups have a radical approach and do not believe in the concept of a state. Neither do they believe in the right to co-exist, and all of them are fighting the devil’s war. They cause and fuel violence, extremism and sectarianism and threaten peace. They are just like Assad who has killed at least a quarter of a million Syrians and has caused the displacement of millions.
Therefore, it is now necessary to work towards convincing Trump and his administration that the war on terrorism cannot be divided, and that fighting Shiite extremism and its groups is just as important as fighting Sunni extremism and its groups in Syria, Iraq and Yemen regardless of what these groups are called.