Redacted from in-depth article by Raed Omari
SOURCE: Al Arabiya News
29 July, 2014
ISIS in less than two months, has gone from a militia to a self-proclaimed caliphate. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has undergone the quickest transformation to statehood in modern history. ISIS controls large parts of Iraq and Syria. In addition to its military power, it is said to be building an economy from taxes, theft, and black-market oil and gas sales.
Its horrific abuses have led to anger among those under its rule. However, there has been a gradual acceptance of a new reality, and a preference to the sectarian rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. I was shocked to hear this from Syrians and Iraqis living under ISIS.
The detachment of ISIS from Al-Qaeda has enabled ISIS to act independently without carrying al-Qaeda’s reputation and baggage. The near future is expected to bring about an abrupt change in Al-Qaeda’s radical ideology towards more moderation due to ISIS’s brutality and intolerance. This resembles the decades-old ideological disagreements between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist movement: when one shows extremism, the other shows (RELATIVE) moderation.
The relationship between ISIS and Al-Qaeda also resembles that between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. As ISIS is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan were either members of the latter, or received military training and guidance from it. Given present realities, we may even see ISIS with a central place at the negotiating table.
Exploiting the state of chaos and sectarianism prevailing Iraq and Syria, where the Arab Sunnis blame Shiite Iran for their marginalization, ISIS has presented itself as the defender of the Sunni identity in a bid to gain the sympathy of those sidelined segments.
Prominent Islamist groups researcher Hassan Abu Hanieh has written an insightful piece on such a notion, attributing ISIS’s success in building alliances with the Iraqi Arab Sunnis to the latter’s belief in the Sunni Islamist militia’s willingness to eradicate Maliki’s Shiite government.
Throughout its state-building endeavor, ISIS has been adopting an “alluring” narrative, so to speak, full of anti-Iran sentiments in an effort to add legitimacy to its rule over the Sunni communities in Syria and Iraq. Its abhorrence of the “imposed” territorial state as opposed to the collective Islamic state, or Caliphate, has no doubt attracted supporters who still blame the Levant’s and Arab Peninsula’s woes to the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. A video showing ISIS members from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries tearing and burning their passports was meant to show the group’s alluring belief in the collective Muslim identity.
All in all, ISIS’s presence and rule within the region is largely linked to Syria and Iraq restoring their security and stability. Once people in those pivotal war-torn countries succeed in eliminating the totalitarian rule of Assad and Maliki, their next target will be definitely destroying ISIS’s “caliphate.”
The two radical groups, ISIS and al-Nusra, have been engaged in ideological disputes over the past period, manifested in their leaders trading accusations of deviation from Sharia law. Since his release from prison, which coincided with ISIS’s declaration of its Caliphate, Jordanian Salafist leader Isam al-Barqawi — better known as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi — has been attacking Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamist “state.” Sheikh al-Maqdisi, perceived as supportive of al-Nusra’s ideology, has forcefully rejected ISIS’s declaration of a new caliphate and branded the newly formed group a “deviant.”
(But, Let not the West be confused. All of these terrorist organizations have only one common goal — the return of Muslim domination to the Middle East, North Africa and well into the European continent, thus regaining their “Caliphate” with of course, the incidental destruction of Israel, the little Satan with, without question, the ultimate goal being the destruction of the Big Satan – The US .
Our biggest current problem however, is that Barack Obama, Muslimphile, is doing a super job of complementing their every move) jsk
*Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via email@example.com.