Beyond ISIS, an axis of aggression threatens the western democracies
ISIS is losing territory daily on all fronts with their leaders assassinated and the dream of a Caliphate fading, their attack on the most Islamic city in Europe, Bruxelles, is a sign of desperation.
The Middle East is in turmoil, Russia is expanding, Africa is being overrun by religious disputes and China is in conflict over territorial disputes with its neighbours.
The west is not focused. In 2014 the unopposed Russian invasion of Ukraine, the escalating Sunni/Shi’ite war and the uneasy rivalry between China and Japan dominate the news. The post-Cold war order rested on the overwhelming strength of America and its allies in NATO and Asia and also on the weakness of that order’s opponents. Post – Soviet Russia was in serious decline in the 1990s. China wanted to challenge America in the Pacific but remained content to integrate its economy into the global system and wait its chance to act.
Iran, locked into a rivalry with Sunni ruled Iraq, was concerned about the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and wanted to break out of its regional isolation, remained quiescent.
The three leading revisionist powers China, Russia and Iran are not allies yet they share the agenda of feeling endangered at home and frustration at the existing world system. China is powerful yet has not succeeded in redrawing its boundaries; Iran may be weak but it has changed its position with Iraq where the illegal invasion of that country resulted in the current Shi’ite administration so favourable to Iran; Russia has scored two wins against the West with victories in Georgia and Ukraine. Russia and Iran co-operated to destroy Sunni Jihadists in the southern Caucasus. Europe the US and Japan have had to react to these three countries advances. As the US aids Assad’s enemies in Syria and bombs these same allies in Iraq this is not a coherent policy.
The three revisionist countries shift the global balance of power away from the upholders of the status quo and unless America, Britain and France implement effective responses to these geopolitical challenges then we face an era of crisis and competition that the world cannot tolerate.
www.sundaytimes.co.uk Islamic State loses territory in Iraq and Syria in 2016