The middle east and the terrorist organizations it spawns have always been a problem for the west. First we had al-Qaeda then we had Isis with Iran and other rogue nations in the midst. As is usual with something so contentious there are multiple different solutions offered to the problem. The civilizations inside it have a fiercely independent streak and act differently than other groups. I propose we look at history. We can see how many different cultures who ended up with a stake in the middle east tried to impose its will on it.
THE IRAQ WAR
The most recent attempt and the one we are most familiar with is the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. As you might have guessed the Islamic countries were beaten pretty handily in direct combat, so much so that the entire thing looked like a commercial for US weapons. Of course the war is only the first step and ruling is an entirely different matter.The armies of Iraq and Afghanistan never really fought pitched battles instead preferring to retreat. This left a ready-made insurgency force available in the two countries.
As we all know the US tried an approach of winning hearts and minds. Americans installed democracy and got the people to vote. The area was not safe yet so they used their armies to set up green zones where friendly natives could live and work without threat to their lives. Changing hearts and minds takes a long time as you must change the character and culture of the people to achieve it. Eventually the cost of the invasion both economically and politically were strained and the United States pulled back its troops. The two countries were immediately taken over by various warlords with the tacit approval of the citizens proving that there was just not enough time and direct involvement to make sure that the next generation has the change.
ISRAEL AND THE CRUSADES
I lump both of these historical events together because they attempted to do the same thing. Israel was of course given land and the Crusaders conquered the same land back in the middle ages. Both set up their own states inside the Middle East with non islamic religions. The reaction of the middle eastern countries were roughly the same.
With regards to the crusade they were driven out of the holy land by continuing rounds of Jihad and with regards to Israel they had to survive and win two separate wars with the Arab nations. They did win those wars quite handily but as of yet a majority of countries in the area still do not recognize their right to exist.
This approach taking one area and then filling it with non muslims is very difficult to do as the powers in the area band together against you whenever it is attempted. At best you are constantly attacked and at worse you are driven out of the place altogether. The arabs did have a valid reason starting with the initial event, in which some of their land was taken. It is proof though that peaceful coexistence by another state in the area with a different religion is unacceptable.
People forget this sometimes but the Mongols did conquer the middle east as well. They started with Kwarezmia then made their way to Aleppo and even sacked Baghdad. A city which had not been sacked 500 years prior.
They also set up the parts of the middle east they had conquered as the ilkhanate headed by the line of Chagatai. Strangely enough the Muslims accepted their rule when they would not do the same for the US and they coexisted with the Mongols as well, something they would not do for the Crusaders or the Israelites.
The first thing that the Mongols did was to impose a very light policy rule. The tribes and various factions in the area could still do what they wanted as long as they sent in tribute, send soldiers for the ilkhanate army, and follow some foreign policy directives such as not being able to conquer each other. Second they used very harsh punishments for any violations of the light rules they imposed. Genghis Khan had a system of three tents. If a city revolted the khans tumans would appear and a white tent would go up before the city signifying that everyone would be spared. If they did not surrender a red tent would go up signifying that every male above the height of the belly of a horse would be killed. On the third day a black tent came up signifying that everyone in the city were to die.
The system of lax rules and very draconian punishments worked so well that one of the arabic poets said “You could walk from a city to another with a gold platter on your head and not fear harm”. The middle eastern states responded how you would think they did, with terrorism. One of the first terrorist groups, the assassins, went after Genghis khan. They believed they could do so as they got Saladin to back of their interests just by leaving him a poisoned cake.
The Mongols went berserk. They bribed who they needed to bribe. Killed who would not break and offered protections to those who did. At the end of the day the mongols had the location of Alamut the assassin stronghold. Were they merciful when they got there? Only killed the perpetrators? No they killed all the inhabitants of the fortress as well as any other family member they could find and pulled the entire thing down stone by stone as a warning to future terrorists.
The Ilkhanate enjoyed the support of the Islamic community after and were even able to recruit and integrate muslims into the khans armies up until the time of the decline of the Mongolian empire.
As we can see three very different approaches have been tried and it seems clear that only one has had any sort of success when it comes to ruling and integrating the Islamic community into the greater society. We should emulate this as best we can to get the same success. Be light on the rules, keeping only a set few such as those related to terrorism. However be equally ready to punish those who break the rules harshly. One of the reasons why the three tents worked is the Mongols made no exception and any city who led a revolt knew exactly what the consequences were. We can also gain a valuable lesson here for the fight on terror. Pull no punches, exploit everything you can, and show no mercy. It is not just for this terror group but to silence the next one that springs up as well. Make sure that they know consequences for other people aside from you exist if you participate. After all it is easy to lose your life but not the live of a loved one.
The blueprint on how to defeat ISIS has already been given to us by history. It is up to us to follow them.