By Mikaela Tenner
On February 4, the world was yet again shocked by ISIS’s brutality when the terrorist group released a video of the execution of Jordanian pilot Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh. The 26-year-old pilot was captured when his plane went down during a U.S-led airstrike on ISIS. This video was especially notable because the militant group for the first time publicly burned a prisoner to death, and also because it was the first known public execution of a Jordanian prisoner. Numerous critics have pointed out that ISIS’s new execution style is intentional and an attempt to send a message to the Western world. Many believe that they intended Pilot Kasasbeh to be representative of the Western world: trapped, unable to escape, and eventually consumed by ISIS. Regardless of the manner of execution, Jordan pledged to take swift, severe retaliation upon the terrorist group after previously been leading a more patient strategy.
Jordan has been at the forefront of the battle with ISIS, carrying out ground operations against the terrorist group since last summer. ISIS has responded to the Jordanian attacks by repeatedly expressing its desire to both take over their land, and to kill their “western-backed king.” This past November, ISIS took action and destroyed six Jordanian border posts located on the Iraq-Jordan border, allowing them to gain a sizeable hold on Jordan’s border. After the recent video was released, Jordanian leaders declared that the country would initiate swift retaliation against ISIS. In the early hours of February 5, just hours after the video was released, Jordanian officials executed two prisoners in revenge for al-Kasasbeh’s murder. However, many Jordanians have said that these actions are not enough, and are have urged their leaders to carry out harsher retaliation.
Although Jordan has increased its military actions, it lacks the necessary resources to continually do so. Landlocked between Israel, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, Jordan possesses a substandard amount of water, energy, and other natural resources. Nearly half of the eight million inhabitants of the small, impoverished nation are refugees from other Middle Eastern countries. Thus, even though Jordan may have the desire to keep ISIS out of their country, it will need to receive a large amount of foreign aid in order to continue to carry out their military operations in the long term.
The world needs to form a more cohesive plan to end this brutal group, and to ensure that these public executions never happen again. The heightened involvement of Jordan following the release of the video presents the Western world with the opportunity to gain a strategic partnership in fighting ISIS in the Middle East. It would be wise of Western Governments to provide large amounts of aid to Jordan, especially because of its newfound sense of revenge for its fallen comrade.
As a major Western government, the United States has the resources Jordan requires and it would benefit both countries greatly to increase the amount of foreign aid being provided to Jordan. Although the United States has been leading airstrikes against ISIS for months, ISIS still remains strong; therefore, having an important ally such as Jordan help lead a coalition against ISIS will more likely lead to the militant group’s demise. Up to this point, the United States’ strategy against ISIS has been doubted and criticized by many who believe that the Obama administration has failed to explicitly define a tangible strategy for destroying ISIS. With pressure building, the United States must send aid to Jordan and allow for the expansion of military operations both in the air and on the ground. A coalition consisting of Jordan and the United States has the potential to do far more than either country could do on their own.