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This French journalist has a solution to defeat ISIS. Are world leaders listening?

Vishal Manve | Updated on: 4 December 2015, 18:49 IST

Neither the bombings, nor creating international coalitions to battle the Islamic State seems to be doing much to stop the terror group. You have to win over people (sic), and change beliefs.

Yes, that's exactly what French journalist Nicolas Henin has to say about the imminent IS threat and how it can be neutralised.

Who is Nicolas Henin?


Nicolas Henin: Facebook

The freelance journalist has worked in Iraq and Syria for most of his career. He was held by Islamic State in an underground cell alongside other hostages including the American journalist James Foley, who was later murdered.

Nicolas, who was captured by the IS and tortured for ten months, knows the terror outfit and its ideology well. None other than the infamous Jihadi John tortured him before he managed to flee the group's clutches.

He was freed following negotiations between the French government and his captors, and he has since written about the experience in a book entitled Jihad Academy, published in English last month.

During an interview with The Syria Campaign*, Nicholas Henin has put forward his strategy to combat the militant group. And no, it doesn't involve guns, bullets or barrel bombs but exactly the opposite - creating a no-fly zone in opposition-held areas of Syria.

What does it mean?

This means no bombing the areas that already contain Kurds or other forces fighting the IS threat - thereby minimising casualty to allies and civilians.

The Middle East, or specifically Syria, is a bloody sporadic mess of allies and oppositional forces. This means that both France and US will have to adhere to not bombing the IS and will have to come up with an alternate strategy to contain the IS. This will not change the on-ground hostilities obviously.

The negative ramification

The idea of setting up no-fly zones makes no sense in the absence of a comprehensive military strategy to either take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rebuild Syria or make plans to ensure that the Islamic State doesn't improve its position in a post-Assad Syria, as WSJ notes.

IS targets India. Strategy remains same



On Thursday, the IS released an e-book that puts India and other Asian countries on its radar. The book also contained a strategy that the IS apparently plans to use to keep the investigations agency busy and to create hostilities between countries and communities.

As Praveen Swami from Indian Express notes, the Islamic State's strategy is to hit and run and then go into hiding so (the world) can waste millions or billions of Euros on 100,000-plus police, investigators, and it can shut down its major cities and lose its money.

The Islamic State claims that the shutdown after the Paris terror attack cost Belgium 53 million Euros per day. "For what," it asks. "To hunt 20 people who have basic AK-47 rifles which cost a few thousand dollars maximum."

But, Nicolas has confirmed the validity of this strategy and provided a solution in hindsight. Here are some of his suggestions:

"The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side."

"What we have to do - and this is really key - is we have to engage the local people. As soon as the people have hope for a political solution, the Islamic State will just collapse."

"There will be a very easy way to make Isis lose ground at a high speed. The international community must decide all regions held by the Syrian opposition are no-fly zones.

"No-fly zones for everybody. Not the coalition, not the Russians, not the regime, nobody. Providing security for people [there] would be devastating for Isis. That's what the international community should focus on."

"We are just fuelling our enemies and fuelling the misery and disaster for the local people."

The battle lines are drawn. The refugee acceptance into Europe by political leaders has backfired the IS' plans to create a vindictive batch of refugees who'd draw weapons to rise against global powers for oppression. Will the international community take note of his suggestions?

*The Syria Campaign is mobilising people around the world to act in solidarity with Syrians in their struggle.

First published: 4 December 2015, 18:49 IST
Vishal Manve @VishalManve12

Vishal Manve handles business and international relations beat for Catch. Previously, he has worked with Scroll.in and Daily News and Analysis and has interned with BBC World News and Gateway House council on global relations. Currently, he is pursuing Law from Government Law College, Mumbai. In his free time, Vishal researches on various aspects of foreign policy, human rights and feminism and looks for people who will share their stories with him.