There is absolutely no doubt that the West is guilty of pampering repressive regimes in the Muslim world. It did so firstly to extend its sphere of influence during the Cold War days and secondly to meet its business goals, and to push up its arms sales. Yes, you can hold the West guilty on this score but you cannot accuse the West of creating military states in the Islamic world. Its only fault was that it saw an opportunity, and went ahead in a calibrated manner whether it was Shahanshah Reza Pahlvi regime in Iran, the Zia regime in Pakistan or the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia. The point is no jaundiced mind should be allowed to rewrite world history.
Now to the theory that the US is responsible for the emergence of Taliban and al Qaeda in Af-Pak region and to their clone IS in Iraq and Syria. The proponents of the theory argue that CIA arms and Saudi money had created the Taliban to drive out the mighty Soviet Red Army from Afghanistan while the Bush family's dislike of Saddam Hussein not only resulted in the overthrow of a secular- socialist regime but also gave birth to a Sunni upsurge we are witnessing across the Middle East. There is no denying that the basic hypothesis is correct but the problem with these theorists is that in their single point agenda to blame the West they are missing the woods for the trees.
As Lina Khatib points out in her well researched paper "The Islamic State's Strategy: Lasting and Expanding" (click here), "In Syria, the Islamic State emerged from the socio-economic context of a population that had been exhausted by years of war and reduced to the pursuit of basic needs. In Iraq, the Islamic State capitalized on Sunni anger at former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's systematic political and economic exclusion of Sunni areas, which led those regions, heavily populated by tribes, to feel detached from the central state".
Where the US faltered, and, therefore, has to bear the cross is in its shortsightedness post-2003 invasion. It provided equipment to the Iraqi army to maintain law and order but failed to ensure good governance coupled with accountability. Iran contributed no less to the divide in Iraq and to the mess in Syria. But that is not the issue here. The point that deserves attention is that the IS has tapped into the prevailing tensions, and wide spread discontent and positioned itself as the only Sunni alternative to usher in the much talked about Caliphate.
The Mujahideen (freedom fighters) as the Islamist militants are still called in the Af-Pak region are a by-product of the Islamist seminaries of Pakistan. Yes, the US of America did not create them but only used them to further its Cold War era goals namely driving out the Soviet Army from Kabul with no body bags landing on its soil. Giving credit to the US for the creation of Taliban would make Benazir Bhutto, Gen Zia-ul-Haq and their cohorts stir in their graves with unease. Gen Zia adroitly used the American concerns in Afghanistan to further his own geo-political and strategic goals in the territories on either side of Pakistan. ( TO BE CONTINUED)