By Marc Unger
International competition flows freely through all achievements of various states. Economic gains, galactic discovery, and bringing about peace are all examples of national successes. One important step for all world citizens is when a country takes down the head of a terrorist organisation. For example, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS being taken down by Russian airstrike.
The Kremlin has reason to believe that Russian airstrikes killed many ISIS militants, including their leader. Even rumour of such action bears consequences on the perception of the US-led coalition, a bloc of European, American, and Middle Eastern forces fighting ISIS in the air and on the ground. The statement came from the party responsible, not an independent source, leaving the information susceptible to doubt.
Ever since al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a caliphate in 2014, there have been many reports of his death. Even Assad’s regime in Syria declared their killing of the terrorist leader mere days ago. Some believe that this dual-declaration of death was a timed action to bring about a conversation regarding al-Baghdadi within ISIS channels. To date, there has been no official report from the organisation on the state of their leader.
If Russia really brought down the head of ISIS, the implications are staggering. First, the country would assert further control in Middle Eastern affairs.Support of the Assad regime in Syria already puts their hand in the pot, as well as talks with Turkey and Iran to negotiate cease-fires in the region. Key players left out of these negotiations are the Western countries, including the United States.
Second, the achievement of taking down the ISIS leader undercuts all the invested time and effort of the US and their allies.Airstrikes and advisory generals from the States have assisted in tearing down the Islamic State since 2014. Large portions of the defence budget were used for US involvement in Iraq and Syria, and a Russian victory leads to wasted US dollars on searching for al-Baghdadi.
Lastly, the leadership of the Russian Federation in the region breaks down the global hegemony of the United States. A hegemon is a leading global power with influence and control over the affairs of smaller nations. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the United States has asserted their dominance in world politics, militarily and economically. The last major head of a non-state actor, or terrorist organisation, to be killed was Osama Bin Laden of al-Qaeda by the United States. Al-Baghdadi’s death by Russia would show that other powers can influence the conflict as much or more than the US.
Until the Islamic State releases word of their leader’s demise, Russia must keep their champagne bottles capped and “Mission Accomplished” banners put away. The claim still dampens the perceptions of ISIS and its Western enemies. Russia continues to further political influence with their support of the Syrian government and agreements with other nations, like Turkey and Iran. The Islamic State is losing control of the region, but Putin’s is just beginning.