For the Islamic State (IS), it was a different god at work when a United States drone smashed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani to smithereens via a remotely-fired bomb two Fridays ago.
His death sent the ISIS, or ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the Daesh in the many variations of its name, rejoicing. But the IS did not praise the US nor Donald Trump. No mention was made of their roles in what the IS claimed was a “divine intervention.”
The IS is a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim terror group of the Salafi jihadist thread that grew out of the al-Qaeda to which it first pledged allegiance to. And Soleimani was its nemesis when he was still living.
His assassination by the US, and the subsequent danger that put the world on the brink of a world war, has compromised the international counterterrorism campaign. We could not be sure if that was Trump’s plan.
Or maybe not. And that Soleimani’s murder could have been just a mistake — a fatal one even.
It is so for the IS, which also hoped for a direct reprisal from Iran. Thankfully, it did not come.
Iran, which has a largely Shi’a Muslim population — which explains why it fought the IS made up of the fundamentalist Sunnis — sent rockets to make sounds and flashes with no intent to kill in the two military bases of Iran in Iraq. Those calculated acoustics prevented a direct war, to the IS’s consternation.
The weekly IS newspaper Al-Naba, however, still portrayed Soleimani’s death as an act of god in support of its cause. It also did not mention Soleimani’s name.
The paper, however, sees an opportunity for the group’s resurgence, especially without Soleimani fighting his proxy wars in countries where the IS had failed.
The Quds Force fighters, under Soleimani’s direction and Iran’s support, have halted the IS from advancing in key points of the Middle East and Western Asia.
Soleimani made sure no IS caliphate is built in Syria, in partnership with the Syrian Army and Russian forces.
His efforts helped the US-backed Iraqi Army and the Kurdish militias in Iraq and Northern Syria.
With the possibility of an IS resurgence, Trump has found his reason to make his troops stay in Iraq. The Iraqi lawmakers have also made sure to announce that their earlier demand for the withdrawal of US forces in the country was nonbinding.
The US State Department on Friday said no pullout of troops is happening.
Trump has also called for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to get involved in the Middle East crisis. An expanded NATO role would make it easier for the US to impose its strength on the oil-rich countries.
This will not come at no cost for the American taxpayers, though. They have spent more than $6.4 trillion on post-9/11 wars and the military action in the Middle East and Asia as of the last quarter of last year.
The US Treasury Department had spent $2 trillion more than the entire federal government spending, which the US government also spent $4.4 trillion during the recently completed 2019 fiscal year that ended on 30 September 2019.
But these numbers, not counting the more than 800,000 people and the 21 million people displaced because of the violence, are miniscule in the US priority of things.
The US is the lead player in what has become a truly global war on terror as more than 80 countries have been included in that expanded war that began with 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria.
These countries, including the Philippines, will continue to carry the burden of that ever expanding and seemingly non-ending war.
The killing of Soleimani made sure of that.
And yes, the IS knows.