Posts Tagged caliphate

What ISIS Believes And No One Is Telling You

From Sam Harris:

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris reads from the latest issue of Dabiq, the magazine of ISIS, and discusses the beliefs and goals of jihadists worldwide.

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The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Scott Stewart

In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could outlast that of the Islamic State. Last week, I wrote about how ideologies are harder to kill than individuals, focusing on the effect that the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi will have on the group and the wider global jihadist movement.

But beyond the impact of leaders like al-Wahayshi, there are other facets of strategy that will influence the war for the soul of jihadism. Specifically, I am talking about time and place. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State seek to establish a global caliphate, but both differ quite starkly in how to accomplish this task and how soon it can be achieved.

Al Qaeda argues that the caliphate can be established only after the United States and its European allies have been defeated, to the extent that they can no longer interfere in Muslim lands — either because of a lack of ability or a lack of desire. The organization pursues a long-war approach that emphasizes the need to attack the United States, “the far enemy,” before focusing on overthrowing local governments. The Islamic State takes the opposite tack. It has adopted a more urgent “why wait?” approach and concentrates its efforts on immediately taking, holding and governing territory. This strategy banks on being able to use any conquered territory and resources for the purposes of continued expansion. The direct approach explains the Islamic State’s decision to quickly proclaim a caliphate at the beginning of Ramadan last year, after it had captured a large portion of Iraq and Syria. The group’s message to the Muslim world is that the caliphate is here and now, and there is nothing the world can do to stop its inexorable expansion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Are ISIS and What Are Their Goals?

A long read from The Atlantic but well worth it:

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.


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As Caliphates Compete, Radical Islam Will Eventually Weaken

As Caliphates Compete, Radical Islam Will Eventually Weaken is republished with permission of Stratfor.”


The rise of the Islamic State will inspire other jihadist groups to claim their own caliphates and emirates. In the long run, the extremism of these contrived dominions and the competition among them will undermine the jihadist movement. However, before that happens, the world will witness much upheaval.


In a 52-minute video that surfaced in late August, Abubakar Shekau, the head of Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, spoke of an Islamic State in northeastern Nigeria. The statement came two months after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the transnational jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq, declared the re-establishment of the caliphate, renaming the group the Islamic State. Though likely inspired by the Islamic State, Boko Haram is not simply mimicking its more powerful Syrian-Iraqi counterpart; it is taking its cue from the Nigeria-based Sokoto Caliphate, which was established in the early 1800s and existed for almost a century until Britain gained control of the region.

The Caliphate’s Role in History

According to classical Muslim political theorists, there can be only one caliphate for the entire Muslim global community, or ummah. In practice, though, there have been rival claimants to authority and even competing caliphates throughout the history of Islam. In our July 1 analysis on the subject, Stratfor explained not only how multiple emirates and sultanates emerged independently of the caliphate but also that there were rival caliphates — for example, the Abbasid in Baghdad (749-1258), Umayyad in the Iberian Peninsula (929-1031) and Fatimid in Cairo (909-1171).
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In Iraq, the United States and Iran Align Against the Islamic State

In Iraq, the United States and Iran Align Against the Islamic State is republished with permission of Stratfor.”


Since June, a great deal of international focus has been on Iraq, where the transnational jihadist movement Islamic State took over large swaths of the country’s Sunni-majority areas and declared the re-establishment of the caliphate. Despite the global attention on the country, especially given U.S. military operations against the Islamic State, U.S.-Iranian cooperation against the jihadist group — a significant dynamic — has gone largely unnoticed. A convergence of interests, particularly concerning the Iraqi central and Kurdish regional governments, has made it necessary for Washington and Tehran to at least coordinate their actions. However, mistrust and domestic opposition will continue hampering this cooperation.

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Iraq: Examining the Professed Caliphate

Iraq: Examining the Professed Caliphate is republished with permission of Stratfor.”


The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has changed its name, but otherwise the militant group remains the same. Over the past weekend, a spokesman for the group announced that it had established a caliphate stretching from Diyala province, Iraq, to Aleppo, Syria. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. “Iraq” and “Levant” have been dropped from the organization’s name to reflect its new status.

The trouble with the announcement is that the Islamic State does not have a caliphate and probably never will. No amount of new monikers will change the fact that geography, political ideology and religious, cultural and ethnic differences will prevent the emergence of a singular polity capable of ruling the greater Middle East. Transnational jihadist groups can exploit weakened autocratic states, but they cannot institutionalize their power enough to govern such a large expanse of land. If anything, the Islamic State’s drive to unify the Middle East will actually create more conflicts than it will end as competing emirates vie for power in the new political environment.

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Jihadist Opportunities in Syria


By Kamran Bokhari

In an eight-minute video clip titled “Onward, Lions of Syria” disseminated on the Internet Feb. 12, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri expressed al Qaeda’s support for the popular unrest in Syria. In it, al-Zawahiri urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels battling Damascus. The statement comes just days after a McClatchy report quoted unnamed American intelligence officials as saying that the Iraqi node of the global jihadist network carried out two attacks against Syrian intelligence facilities in Damascus, while Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi said in a recent interview with AFP that Iraqi jihadists were moving fighters and weapons into neighboring Syria.

Al Qaeda’s long-term goal has been to oust Arab governments to facilitate the return of a transnational caliphate. Its tactics have involved mainly terrorism intended to cause U.S. intervention in the region. Al Qaeda has hoped such interventions would in turn incite popular uprisings that would bring down the Arab regimes, opening the way for the jihadists to eventually take power. But the jihadist network’s efforts have failed and they have remained a marginal player in the Arab world. By addressing Syria, al Qaeda hopes to tap into the past year of Arab unrest, a movement in which it played little to no part. Read the rest of this entry »

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