Two Different Reactions, One Objective: Japan and Jordan on ISIS

A contribution from NESA intern Madison Barton.

The extremist group known as ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has received various responses from a wide range of countries to their brutal tactics. The recent executions of Japanese Security Contractor Haruna Yukawa, Journalist Kenji Goto, and Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, have amplified the ever-growing animosity towards ISIS. Both, Goto and Yukawa were Japanese hostages whose lives were taken by the radical group. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke out against the acts of terror, denouncing the heinous behavior of ISIS, and reassuring the continuation of humanitarian aid to countries in need. However, while Japan chooses to advance with peace and prosperity in mind, Jordan is taking an antithetical approach. The two countries have suffered tremendous loss, and though the crimes have been carried out differently in each situation, they are analogously related. Why then, are the reactions so very different?

Just over two weeks ago Haruna Yukawa was murdered, one day later ISIS announced that the fate of Kenji Goto would be the same unless Jordanian prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, associated with hotel bomb attacks that killed 60 people, was released.  Goto was killed on January 31, 2015. ISIS claims that the Japanese aid was the reason for taking the hostages. Prime Minister Abe pledged 200 million in aid to countries fighting ISIS. The group later demanded this same amount for ransom and proclaimed that Japan joined an “unwinnable war” when they chose to provide assistance to their allies. Japan’s reaction to the horrific events has been especially interesting because it is one in which hostility and military action is not at the forefront. Of course Japan is outraged, they are mourning, and they are willing to take part in the international fight against ISIS.

Unlike Japan, Jordan has taken a more aggressive stance towards the extremist group. The video of Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive was released on February 3, 2015. The pilot was taken hostage in December after his plane came down in Syria during an anti-ISIS mission. Since the release of the graphic video, there has been a surge in news headlines around the globe displaying Jordan’s indignation. Jordan promised revenge and the country has carried out their threats promptly. Hours after the news of Lieutenant Al-Kasasbeh’s death, attempted suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, and al-Qaeda operative Ziyad Karboli were both hanged in Jordan. Since then, Jordan’s air force has performed 56 airstrikes on ISIS, wiping out 19 locations said to be housing Islamic State commanders and fighters. Other targets are their economic and financial sources. These countries’ goal is to eradicate ISIS completely, and they seem to be letting very little get in their way. Jordan has vowed that this is just the beginning of their fight and will not stop until they have accomplished their goal.

Why did the two countries have different reactions?  Both countries have remained fairly quiet in international controversies, until now. Though Japan has not taken such an aggressive stance towards ISIS this does not imply that their punishments won’t be just as severe as Jordan’s. To Japan, it seems that an aggressive approach would mean giving in to terrorist tactics which is not something that they are willing to do. Others may think that Japan’s location is responsible for their reaction, as they are not as close as Jordan and therefore are not facing an immediate security threat, thus explaining them having not taken immediate forceful action. Jordan’s reaction has been more combative. Jordan wants to wipe ISIS from the face of the earth, and no time has been wasted. Is this because of their more immediate location? Has hostility been building up in the country? Whatever the reasons are a more peaceful and stable international world order is the objective.

Please note that the views expressed in this piece do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

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Jordan And ISIS

A contribution from NESA intern Maryam Arshad.

By now the news of the Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, being burned alive by ISIS has been heard by everyone. Reactions have been explosive in their own right. King Abdullah, of Jordan, has promised a powerful escalation of Jordanian airstrikes against the Islamic State.  Fox News has faced backlash for posting the ISIS produced propaganda video of the violent immolation, but the news channel’s reasoning is that the world needs to witness the horrific acts of ISIS. Overall the Muslim world has decried the violence of ISIS as being senseless and un-Islamic. As passionate as these reactions to this heinous event are, the current state begs the question – What’s next?

So many questions are coming out of the fold. Questions regarding the degree of Jordanian involvement in the airstrike campaign and that of other Gulf States have arisen. Along with this, the effectiveness of the U.S. led coalition is being probed. For six months airstrikes have been made on key Islamic State locations focused in Iraq, with a few in Syria. But the UAE and other countries have stopped airstrikes in Syria, saying that only the removal of President Assad will help the elimination of ISIS. The biggest question that remains is how will the world change its reaction to ISIS following this event?

Several answers can be speculated. The first speculation to what’s next?, could be that the U.S. and the rest of the world, including the airstrike coalition, do not change their strategy. Continue with business as usual, since it has been effective enough in Iraq. Moreover it doesn’t seem that any western country is interested in sending ground troops to fight another war. In this case continued airstrikes seem like the best option. Keeping the status quo however, is already proving to be something that will not happen. Jordan has intensified its response to ISIS in a very real way immediately following the release of the video. There also seems to be a public response urging a state reaction to ISIS. People are rallying in Amman following the airstrikes in support for more military response.

So if the status quo is not going to remain, then how is the response going to change? Ground troops in either Syria or Iraq do not seem to be a viable option. The public support for an operation like that just isn’t there. So what will change? The response and cooperation from Gulf States will increase, most likely following in Jordan’s example. The United States will still, most probably lead in the amount of airstrikes, but having the public support of people may change the outcome of the fight for the better.

The ISIS problem will not be one that will be resolved quickly or cleanly. According to BBC, ISIS still has full control in various regions in Syria. And ISIS’s penchant for fear based propaganda illustrates their fear mongering method of control. Because of this people are not likely to confront their power. ISIS also draws much of its power from residing and functioning in failed states. Syria and Iraq, already in unrest, make ISIS taking control effectively effortless. The removal of ISIS then rests in the hands of the global community, but how is up for speculation. So, what’s next?

Please note that the views expressed in this piece do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.