Tag Archives: ISIL

ISIS again

I promise, sometime I will blog more frequently and it will be about something other than ISIS… but for now: read.

Saudi Arabia is not the source of ISIS, it’s the group’s primary target.

ISIS’ core objective is to restore the caliphate (an Islamic empire led by a supreme leader), and because Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam and the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, ISIS’ road to the caliphate lies through the kingdom and its monarchy. Indeed, ISIS has even launched a campaign against Saudi Arabia, called qadimun, or “we are coming” to take over the country.

Here is a piece discussing what I mentioned many months (I think) ago. I believe that ISIS is run by some men who are at least canny and clever and sly. Perhaps they are brilliant too, but they don’t really need to be brilliant. It doesn’t take a brilliant leader to smash things. We should absolutely be taking ISIS at its word when it says that it is restoring the caliphate. THe article above points out the massive refugee recruiting pool, but not as clearly as Spengler at PJ Media:

There are always lunatics lurking in the crevices of Muslim politics prepared to proclaim a new caliphate; there isn’t always a recruiting pool in the form of nearly 14 million displaced people (11 million Syrians, or half the country’s population, and 2.8 million Iraqis, or a tenth of the country’s population). When I wrote about the region’s refugee disaster at Tablet in July (“Between the Settlers and Unsettlers, the One State Solution is On Our Doorstep“) the going estimate was only 10 million. A new UN study, though, claims that half of Syrians are displaced. Many of them will have nothing to go back to. When people have nothing to lose, they fight to the death and inflict horrors on others.

With this  recruiting tool: the water and food crisis makes these men realize that even if everyone has 10% of the food that one man needs in a day, he only has to kill (or displace) 10 people and take their food…  Its a snowball. And that is what ISIS wants. To be a caliphate, they need Mecca and Medina and money (three M’s). It seems to me that the best strategy to get these three things is to intentionally inflame the Sunni-Shia tension to add nucleating points for the regional chaos. The Saudi’s may be able to stand at their borders and keep ISIS out, but if they are dealing with a Shia insurgency in their east (over their oil fields, see last post) then, maybe, ISIS can come in too. They figure that if the whole region goes up in flames and slaughter, the Saudi’s will fall eventually. Then, they just have to be in the best position to pick up the pieces (Mecca, Medina, and the oil fields). If they keep up winning battles, holding territory and attracting the angry, hungry, and violent young men in the region, they might just manage.

What should we do about it? Well you should go read the Spengler piece. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be done, given the fundamental issues of food, water, population and violent tribal heritage. I’d say start arming the Kurds in earnest, and arm Israel even more (two stable and genuinely friendly societies on the edges of the coming insanity) and don’t pick one set of evil people to support… Playing favorites among a morass of evil and capricious potential allies seems to be insanity. (Like thinking ‘Hey, lets help Assad… he will massacre the ISIS folks if he can…) I’d also add, stand strong with our long time (though not nice at all…) allies the Saudis: mostly because they are sitting on the caliph-maker and have no interest in being caliphs. Its better if they have it than Al-Baghdadi.

ISIS and the Caliphate

Warning: a non-expert, speculative discussion follows… although given the given the nature of prognostication, I have as good of a chance predicting the future as anyone.

The current turmoil in the middle-east, essentially a region wide war of different Muslim countries, entities and groups against each other, was, I suspect, inevitable. I think this would have been the case even if America had not invaded Iraq. While discussing that ISIS wants to build a caliphate, no one seems to be interested in the fact that the conquest of richer and weaker and non-Muslim neighbors is how the first caliphate was built. The problem now for ISIS is that if you look at the edges of the Islamic world, all of its neighbors are either dirt poor or much more powerful than an organization like ISIS.

From Wikipedia

There is pretty much nothing to loot in the Congo, and who in their right mind would invade China? Sure Europe is getting weaker and weaker, but it still wouldn’t be very easy to wreak up the place and steal millions of dollars of cash like ISIS just did in Mosul. But there is this convenient catch for barbarians like ISIS. All they need is an ‘apostate’ Muslim (the definition of which is fungible) to attack and they can claim legitimacy to their members. And, behold, there are numerous weak, fractured and unspeakably oil rich areas that ISIS can attack. Places so fractured that the army just leaves when ISIS attacks its second largest city. And conveniently, Iraq is run by ‘apostates’ and can therefore be pillaged. Iraq has oil, which is a tyrant’s dream. Every kingdom and petty tyrant in that region is fabulously wealthy based on a resource that they did not invent how to refine or use, did not mine, and do not have to exert any effort or risk to gain. They have this money because they were ruling their areas at the right moment. Now, ISIS simply wants in on the money and the power.

I will venture to predict events based on how I would write a novel from this point. I think that Europe and the US (though certainly hated and on their hit list) are back-burner hatreds. I suspect very much that ISIS has its eyes on the Saudis. I suspect that what ISIS wants is not really to conquer the Shi’a areas of Iraq, but rather to light the fuse to the Sunni-Shi’a bomb, and taking advantage of the chaos eat up Medina and Mecca. The Saudi’s main source of Islamic clout comes from controlling who gets to go to Mecca on the Hajj, and their main source of international clout is their oil. Without those, no one would care about them. If ISIS really wants a caliphate, they need Mecca. If the Shi’a in Saudi Arabia and the Shia’ in Iraq and Iran help explode the Sunni-Shi’a bomb, the Saudi’s would probably half-fall like Assad, and now Maliki, clinging to power in regions of their territory. They would be fighting Shi’a separatists and ISIS on opposite sides of their country. Now, if and when ISIS takes Mecca and Medina, while controlling some of the oil in Iraq, they will only be short a Caliph and in all other respects they could count as a Caliphate.

If I were an Intelligence official (or even someone who had/wanted the credentials of an expert on the region) I’d be looking out for which person(s) the leaders of ISIS could install as Caliph and control as a puppet. (Perhaps their current leaders (strange that in the news stories there never seems to be a named leader) could choose among themselves, but that would most likely lead to ISIS factions fighting each other.) I think what they need is someone who’s lineage would give them broader Sunni credibility. I havn’t the faintest idea of who that might be, but there must be some candidates out there. Once they have oil money, Mecca and a Caliph: that is when the Western world is in trouble.

There, that’s my fanciful prediction, now back to the salt mines of my dissertation.