The audacious acts committed by the Islamic terrorists ISIL or ISIS, who have been invading slaughtering, beheading, and destroying whatever and whoever stands in their way and are threatening to go beyond the boundaries of Middle East countries, have to be taken very seriously.
However this is not the first time that this kind of danger to neighboring countries in the region has occurred with the aim to destabilize governments and subjugate non-Islamist citizens as well as Muslims of different sects from that of the Islamist terror organization.
In today's situation these terrorists finance their cause by robbing banks, and stealing Iraqi and Syrian oil and sell it on the black market to regimes sympathetic to their cause. They are already operating with mostly American military vehicles, tanks, and equipment which they took from defeated Iraqi soldiers.
However, what is happening in our time is actually a kind of deja vu, if we remember European history of the 16th century. Then the Ottoman Empire became a menace to Venetian commerce and holdings in the Mediterranean, and to countries bordering their territory, using the same kind of savage methods that ISIS does today.
It was the Alliance of the combined forces of The Holy League that included the Republics of Venice and Genoa, the Papal States, the Spanish Habsburgs who were the greatest Christian power in the mediterranean, who came to defend the islands of Malta, Cyprus, Corfu, Crete, and even the distant Balearics, as well as Venice herself. This collaboration took place in the Fourth Ottoman-Ventian War, also known as the War of Cyprus fought between 1570 and 1573. In the decisive Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Ottoman fleet was destroyed.
Even though they tried unsuccessfully to regain lost territory by rebuilding their fleet and their military force, the Ottomans were repeatedly defeated by the western coalition. Thus the spread of Islam was thwarted, saving Christianity for most of Europe. It was this collaboration of countries whose faith and way of life was in danger of becoming extinct and whose citizens were in danger of becoming enslaved. It all happened a long time ago, nearly 500 years, yet in my mind there is a compelling similarity between then and now.
That takes us back to the recent events in the Levant, i.e. Iraq and Syria. We remember the beheadings of two American journalists, a British aid worker, and a Frenchman, and the same threat hanging over several more hostages; the slaughter and raping of minorities in villages in the north of Iraq, and numerous other atrocities that were committed by ISIA.
As of this writing, President Obama has taken the initiative to call on five Arab monarchies that are most likely to be threatened by these terrorists, to unite in the fight. After all, they have the air power and the money to finance an undertaking of this magnitude. While the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are being trained and coordinated by American advisers for fighting on the ground, American, French, and Arab fighter bombers have begun air strikes to destroy ISIS positions, and of late also Britain, Belgium and Denmark have vowed to join the effort with their fighter planes.
This combined endeavor must be successful, but will take time. ISIS will have to be stopped from going beyond the Arab World and from sending their European and perhaps even American volunteer Islamist terrorists back to wreak havoc at home. Do we want another 9/11, or a blown-up train or subway somewhere in Spain, Britain, France, Italy, or Germany killing hundreds of innocent people, or another “Marathon Bomber”? The threat is real!
Only an extended coalition of European and American (NATO) forces alongside those Arab countries, whose monarchies are at stake, can stem the threat of this “cancer” that is ISIL or ISIS from spreading, no matter how long it takes to complete the task.
Remember, the 16th century war in the Mediterranean took more than three years, but it saved Europe's way of life and culture, music and all the rich art treasures! Do we want to fear for that again?
Ingrid Baird lives in Fearrington Village.