In war there is fighting, and then there is fighting with words. Propaganda is just as important to strategy as are positions and weapons.
In the US, and many Western countries, there is a war of words about the name to be used for the terrorist group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In a sense, double propaganda.
Is it the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the Islamic State, or Daesh?
The evolution of a name
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s group currently call themselves the Islamic State (IS), their opponents call them Daesh.
The change from ISIS, ISIL and IS to Daesh is rooted in interpretation. The evolution of the name comes partly from the group of extremists themselves, partly from locals, and partly from the “western world.”
As Daesh expanded its goals, they changed their name to more accurately represent their end game, according to Islamic State, Isis or Daesh: the dilemma of naming extremists, a report from “The Week” a UK magazine.
The report goes on to say that Daesh gave themselves the title of IS to claim representation of all Muslims, and a worldwide Islamic caliphate. “Daesh” is used by opponents in the region for a few reasons.
An accurate interpretation.
Daesh (die-esh) is the sound, or most closely interpreted sound, for the Arabic acronym used for the terrorist group. Partners in the Middle East point out there is no state to fight, and they should not be given such authority or credence.
Daesh has come to have derogatory meanings in the Middle East. The acronym sounds similar to the words for trampling underfoot, or sowing discord. It has also been morphed into a new meaning in Arabic, oppressive bigots.
Daesh separates the terrorists from Islam. Discrediting their main claim is important when it comes to recruiting new members.
They hate it.
World leaders outside the Middle East are starting to catch on, with some push from Arabic leadership.
A recent article in The Inquisitr explains why Australian prime minister, Tony Abbot, began using the term.
“…We probably should refer to this organisation by the term that is most used by its opponents in those countries,” Abbot said.
A Google News search reveals few US outlets, and even fewer representatives, using the term widely used by their counterparts in the Middle East and allies worldwide.
Some of our own “radicals” believe not referring to this group specifically as “Islamic” or “radical Muslims” somehow diminishes the seriousness of the situation, reveals an “Obama” conspiracy, or is more about not offending Muslims.
What it comes down to…
It is reasonable to have a supportive message of the partnerships with the people in the region, those truly on the front lines of this conflict. It is very important to our Middle East collaborators that these extremists be separated from their religion.
There is a constant call for denouncement of groups like Daesh from the broader Muslim community. It is clearly answered, and largely ignored by fear-mongering actors. These actors are the perfect example of modern yellow-journalism.
Political leaders need to use Daesh to mold that narrative of the conflict. It benefits our end objective to take away all credit of a holy and sovereign claim.
History shows us that propaganda against an entire ethnic group leads to further conflicts, long-term mistrust, and hate crimes. However, shaping a narrative that takes away the credibility of the specific group at hand is a necessary tool in fighting an unconventional war.
Prime Minister Abbot sums up the reasoning nicely.
“I would strongly counsel people against ever using the presumptuous title that they have given themselves … Daesh hates being referred to by this term, and what they don’t like has an instinctive appeal to me….,” Abbot said.