The French president has suggested repurposing an international anti-IS effort, feeble to begin with, to help Israel fight its war
Last week, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested recycling the global coalition of 86 nations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) to focus on Hamas.
“Hamas is a terrorist group, whose objective is the destruction of the state of Israel. This is also the case of ISIS, of Al-Qaeda, of all those associated with them, either by actions or by intentions,” Macron said, betraying a short and selective memory. The stated goal of IS wasn’t to eradicate Israel – it was to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, then broaden it into Arab countries. IS was first and foremost a threat to the stability of Syria – the same country whose government the US and its Western allies actively hindered in its fight against terrorism by making a failed attempt at overthrowing President Bashar Assad through Pentagon and CIA-backed training and equipping of “Syrian rebel” jihadists. As for Al-Qaeda, Israel was even reportedly at one point helping treat wounded militants from the group who were fighting their common enemy, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, in Syria – in turn effectively hindering the fight against IS, as Syria and Hezbollah worked to destroy it.
The Global Coalition against Daesh (another name for IS), founded in 2014, explicitly excluded Russia, whose invitation by Damascus to help it eradicate the terrorist threat can be largely credited for Syria’s stabilization, and the fact that it’s rare to even hear any talk of IS anymore. Russia’s involvement in neutralizing the terrorist group, coupled with former US President Donald Trump’s refusal to continue funding Washington’s incursion into Syria, beyond hunkering down in the oil-rich Kurdish part, was the ultimate key to IS’ defeat. So with apparently little left for it to do now, Macron recommends that the coalition that mostly sat and watched – while Russia, Iran, and Syria did the heavy lifting – take on Hamas. Who does he think is going to do the work this time? Russia, which is still excluded from the coalition? Syria, which has recently taken incoming missile fire from Israel? Iran’s Hezbollah allies, who lost 1,000 men fighting IS in Syria – and whom Netanyahu has placed in the same basket as Hamas as an enemy of Israel? Good luck with that.
So with the most effective anti-IS fighters excluded from fighting Hamas, who’s left in Macron’s proposed coalition? There’s the Global South, including some African countries that just kicked out French troops for their own failed counterterrorism missions which had led to multiple coups and the flourishing of jihadism. It’s doubtful these nations will now be keen to embark on yet another counterterrorism mission alongside the same forces that they just expelled.
Then there are all those members of the international community who are quietly thinking what United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres dared to say aloud last week – that Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7, which left close to a thousand civilians and hundreds of military and security personnel dead, “did not happen in a vacuum.” He was, of course, hinting at Israel’s longstanding, UN-recognized oppression of civilians in Gaza. His statement begs yet another question: Is Hamas really a global threat? Or is it just Israel’s problem?
Anti-Israel unrest has reverberated outside of the immediate conflict zone, including in Western Europe and the US, but these protests have nothing to do with Hamas. Instead, citizens elsewhere in the world are merely reacting to perceived injustices, particularly in light of what they consider to be an overwhelmingly pro-Israel bias on the part of the Western establishment, which initially and drastically minimized concerns over the protection of Palestinian civilians. So any global action against Hamas seems futile.
The anti-IS coalition targeted the terror group’s propaganda, with its website stating that IS’ “use of social media tied to acts of terrorism is well-documented. In response, Coalition partners are working together to expose the falsehoods that lie at the heart” of its ideology. They’re free to do that, but why bother when there’s already open debate among those who have the opportunity to see reports from the ground and assess the situation for themselves? Governments can’t be trusted not to promote their own propaganda under the guise of combating it – all to secure an advantage for their preferred narrative.
Just consider the recent example of propaganda emitted by one of the self-styled gatekeepers of truth: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Russia and Hamas are alike… their essence is the same,” she said. Nah, actually they aren’t the same at all. And not even Israel has been saying that, but still, “Vladimir Putin wants to wipe Ukraine from the map. Hamas, supported by Iran, wants to wipe Israel from the map,” von der Leyen explained. Besides the hot take on Putin’s intentions regarding Ukraine, that’s like saying that since Warren Buffet has a bank account, and I have a bank account, then I’m also a billionaire. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that Western anti-propaganda campaigns end up spewing.
The anti-IS coalition was made to tackle IS. If that’s no longer an issue, then just toss it in the trash. How many interventionist entities does the West need to spearhead, anyway? There are already more than enough vehicles and coordination mechanisms for intelligence sharing, propagandizing, and security operations. Besides, there’s no proof that better intelligence could have helped Israel when Egyptian and American officials have claimed that Netanyahu had warning of the impending Hamas attack. About the only thing that more useless Western-led bureaucracy would help is the West’s own hunger for more of it.