The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced that it had restored the caliphate on 29 June 2014. ISIS’s name was changed to simply the Islamic State (I.S.), and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, abandoned his kunya and proclaimed himself Caliph Ibrahim, his real name being Ibrahim al-Badri. The statement announcing that the areas I.S. rules in Syria and Iraq are now a caliphate, entitled “This Is The Promise of Allah [God],” was given by the group’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, and was distributed by al-Hayat Media in Arabic, English, Russian, French, and German. The English version is reproduced below with some editions for transliteration and some interesting or important sections highlighted in bold. The speech lays out how the state should and will be governed—in other words, what I.S. envisions for its utopia.Continue reading →
I was genuinely devastated to learn of Fouad Ajami’s death late last night. I think it was more shocking because nobody had known he was ill. I had noticed the decreased frequency of his columns in the Wall Street Journal but he was not a regular in any sense, writing one or two a month, so it was not wholly out of the ordinary and then he had returned last week for what it now transpires was the final time. Continue reading →
The Peshmerga (those who face death): the people’s army of Iraqi Kurdistan
President Obama met with Congressional leaders on Wednesday to brief them on a “comprehensive approach” to Iraq, which for now will not include airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside Iraq, “in part because”—as previously reported—”U.S. military officials lack sufficient information to hit targets that would shift momentum on the battlefield.” Obama has let this drag out so long that the Sahwa (Awakening), the Sunni Arabs who rose up against ISIS’s previous incarnations, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), are now either eliminated or mixed back in with ISIS and—crucially—other locally-focussed Sunni Islamist insurgent groups, notably the Sufi-Ba’athist Jaysh an-Naqshbandi. Defensible as this is, there are stronger reasons why the decision not to strike is correct.
I have yet to read a book more prescient than Yaakov Lappin’s about events in Iraq in the last few days. Having sketched out the way Salafi-jihadists have created the ministries of a future Caliphate in cyber-format—the simple fact that “Al-Qaeda would not be in existence were it not for the pervasive presence of online jihadis”—Lappin finished by suggesting three options: (1) we manage to take down this virtual Empire; (2) we manage to weaken it in cyberspace; or (3) the jihadists “upload” this virtual State into the real world. Continue reading →
Traffic-jam as 150,000 people flee ISIS rule in Mosul
We might all hope to be vindicated so quickly. I wrote yesterday morning of the way the Iraqi government’s sectarianism and authoritarianism had created the space among Iraqi Sunni Arabs in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could operate, and that I saw no way out of this, so one should expect escalating violence, chaos, and killing. By midday, Mosul, Iraq’s third city after Baghdad and Basra, had fallen to ISIS. Continue reading →
Whatever one thinks about the decision in 2003 to finish the war Saddam Hussein started by annexing Kuwait, serious people should be able to agree that the way the country was abandoned by the United States—first politically after 2009 and then militarily—was deeply irresponsible, not least because of the motives of this decision. Continue reading →