Friday, September 25, 2015

Quotable: Gary Grappo on a strategic communication campaign against ISIS

Thursday, September 24th 2015

“The US administration seems unable to make up its mind whether the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a war but the objective has been made clear by President Obama, “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State. But how?”  This question was posed in an op-ed, “Defeating ISIS requires a comprehensive strategy beyond drones and air strikes,” in on September 19, 2014, by former U.S. Ambassador to Oman Gary Grappo.

[ISIS] touts an ideology that appeals to many frustrated and angry Muslims, especially forlorn and forgotten Sunni youth, and to psychopathic killers, such as the British fighter responsible for the beheading of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. 

Degrading and defeating that kind of operation requires much more than air and drone strikes. What is needed is a comprehensive strategy that degrades and eliminates all of the legs on which ISIS stands. Leave even one in place, and it or a facsimile will rise in its place. * * * * *

Third, Arab and other Muslim nations must promulgate a comprehensive repudiation of ISIS’s ideology of murder, martyrdom and mayhem, all in the name of Islam. Muslim religious and political leaders must stand together to renounce ISIS’s ideology and notion of a caliphate as antithetical to the faith and present an alternative that accurately reflects the tenets of their faith and reassures non-Muslims.

Fourth, working with their non-Muslim allies, Muslim nations should launch a strategic communication campaign to blunt ISIS’s media juggernaut. That will require unprecedented collaboration between Sunnis and Shia. 

Muslims must be seen to counter ISIS’s message. Attacking ISIS in the media — and especially in the social media space where it’s been so effective — and neutralizing its media are essential to defeating it.

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