ISIS: The Radicalization and the Politics of Alienation
A. ISIL: Prologue
By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Your author, in doing a report for a Middle Eastern government, had gone on to a select number of recruitment sites for that death-affirming (â€œIslamic) State.â€ He saw many horrid things, crucifixions, mass murders, the burial alive of human souls and beheadings. Of all this horror, he saw one thing that will never leave him, and because it is so horrible, he cannot tell it to another soul. May these heretics be bombed to Hell! May the devils be wiped off the earth! This is not Islam, this is takfir evil unbound over the earth. It is being done in our name; therefore, it should be destroyed in the light of the Prophetâ€™s (s) eternally true message!
I have been lucky enough to see several emergency assemblies–all from Washington (D.C.) –on these atrocities. All but one put together by the Center for Islam and Democracy (CSID); the other by the Palestine Center. The first, under the name of the title of this article, was held at the National Press Club and broadcast over C-ESPN late last month, and is archived on the CSID website.
Your composerâ€™s plan is to do reportage of each of the speakers per article of each seminar with an analysis of the week that has passed in the crisis in comparison of the words expressed. Eventually each of the presentations will be upgraded (revised/rewritten) into a larger article for another publication that can fit such a greater examination into its limitations. Hopefully, eventually, the various parts will be integrated into chapter-length studies; then, all the chapters into a monograph.
(As is his habit the ideas and quotes of the participants will be put in the text while the analysis and thoughts of the writer will be put in parenthesis.)
To begin, in the official written summation of the conference, Radwan Masoudi, the founder and director of the Center for Islam and Democracy, with offices in Washington and Tunis, who, also, happens to be a Tunisian-American with overriding interest in how democracy can be set within the bounds of Islam, had his Center state in the introduction to the meetingâ€™s official concluding communique:
â€œThe international community is alarmed by the new threats posed by the so-called â€œIslamic Stateâ€ [in Iraq and Syria] (ISIS). [or] ISIL [the â€œIslamic Stateâ€ in Iraq and the Levant] has overtaken vast areas in Iraq and Syria and shocked the conscience of the world with its slaughter of thousands of civilians and the crime of the beheading ofâ€¦ [two Americans, one Britain and Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi combatants and non-combatants as well as too numerous war and humanitarian atrocities to enumerate] â€¦DAASH [the Arabic acronym] is promising to spread its reign of terror to the entire Middle East region and beyond.
The phenomenon of ISIS seems new and its success unprecedented, but its causes are not. A key element in the growth of radicalism in Iraq and Syria is the failure of national governments and regional and global powers to address core political issues and grievances. These new radicals are not simply terrorists on the old model, even though they deploy some of the same tactics and rhetoric. Rather, they are a well-funded, advanced military force of tens of thousands of fighters, and growing every day, with well-developed command and control and large ambitions. Their members hail from dozens of countries where democratic transitions have stalled or failed, where corruption is rampant, and where authoritarian leaders privilege political and economic â€œstabilityâ€ over freedom, democracy and accountability. Now increasing numbers of alienated youth, some of the same people that spearheaded the Arab â€œSpringâ€ [Revolts] three and a half years ago, are drawn to this new causeâ€¦.â€
(At the moment the United States of America has begun its intervening airstrikes in support of the Peshmerga [the Iraqi Kurdish militia] as of the eighth of eighth last month which seems to have stemmed the tide in Mesopotamia in favor of the Iraqi military, the Peshmerga and the Shia militias. The United States along with its Kurdish allies have saved the Yezidis from genocide in doing so, and the Iraqi Amy has ISIL in a disorganized retreat from Anbar Province.
(Yet, the peripheral but extremely violent Sunni Takfs have been able to capture the sophisticated weaponry the U.S. had left with the Iraqi army, and a Syrian armory left behind at the Tabqa airbase. In fact last Tuesday ISIS was able to bring down their first (Syrian) fighter plane. This, along with the slaughter of captured prisoners (against the basic laws of War), are sobering incidents.
(There is no denying the root of the present crisis in Iraq goes back to the (U.S.) Bushâ€™s Administration 2003 invasion of Iraq. This reunited and radicalized the ancient Sunni and the Shia divide there. If the (Sunni) Arab/European/American/Australian coalition is to avoid an immense Shia-Sunni Region-wide war the defeat of IS (the â€œIslamic Stateâ€) must be done with the greatest diplomacy.
(It is essential now that the regional Shia and Sunni powers unite to defeat QSIS [al-Qaida Separatists in Iraq and Syria] as the Dar al-Ifta in Egypt insists upon calling them. The Mufti in Cairo maintains they are in no way â€œIslamic nor a â€œStateâ€ which the (Wahhabi) King Abdullah and along with the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, also, concur.
(Further the inclusion of the Shia powers are a necessity for a successful coalition to succeed. For that reason, Iran must be convinced to be included and the Sunni States must be made aware of their mutual interests under the current crisis. It is essential that Syria be consulted and the allies must co-ordinate with them or else we will be fighting them instead of ISIL. Fortunately, on the sixteenth, your writer read a military report that discussions were going on behind closed doors with Syria and Iran.
(The problem, again, is Israel, who is greatly exposed with the al-Qaida-allied al-Nusra Front holding the Syrian Golan. In the fight against IS, it is vital that the U.S. put its interests ahead of their albatross, Israel. For that reason, a nation that is already in battle with ISIS, Lebanon should be put under NATOâ€™s/MENAâ€™s umbrella. Although Tel Aviv is already providing vital intelligence to the Americans, and a wish to be a partner in defeating IS, the difference between the allianceâ€™s issues and the Hebrews goals must be clearly delineated and separated.)
Over the coming weeks we shall discuss the comments of John Esposito, the Director of the Prince bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University (in the District of Columbia); Shade Hamid of the Middle East program of the Brookings Institute; Senior Middle Eastern Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Michelle Dunne; and Michael Oâ€™Hanlon of both the Center for Twentieth-first Century Security and Intelligence as well as at the Brooking Institute.