ISIS has consolidated it’s position across Syria and Iraq even eliminating opposition groups with the same goals such as the FSA in Syria. With the fog of confusion lifted the reality remains whether any rapprochement is possible with Assad and the new Iraq Government. ISIS is now calling for professionals to help consolidate their Sunni caliphate. Unlike previous rebel groups ISIS has the hallmarks of Saddam’s military invasion with it’s specific goals,targets and logistics & bringing together a growing coalition of support.
“It really is all guesswork at this stage,” said Sakhr al-Makhadhi, a British-Arab journalist and Syria analyst. “The Islamic State recently called for professionals – doctors, engineers and such – to move to its territory, so it’s clear that they view this as a long-term state building project. What this shows is that they’re lacking certain skills. They may have the manpower to fight, but not to build a state.”
It is Muslims in the Middle East who have most to worry about from the Islamic State. The decapitation of the journalist James Foley doesn’t change anything – the number of Iraqis executed by Islamic State fighters is far, far more. In a very short time the Islamic State has become the most compelling and attractive organisation for Muslim fighters around the world, more so than AL-Qaeda ever was.
For countries where Muslims are a minority like Australia paranoia has developed. The impact of this phenomenon on community relations – in Australia, Canada, India, the US, and Europe – could be devastating. Abbott for his own political advantage is calling for National Unity in the hope of restoring flagging polls. Once again, suspicions will easily be raised by Islamophobes like Andrew Bolt about Islamic State sympathisers in the west and whether they pose a threat. The news media will undoubtedly report on Australian, American or European Muslims joining the group or calling for violence in videos, further raising tensions and besmirch the Muslim faith. These very actions help recruit sympathizers amongst Australians being disparaged.
The group has prompted bomb blasts and fighting in Lebanon, and in Jordan and Kuwait the governments are worried that sleeper cells may attack at any moment. But it is Saudi Arabia that is on high alert, worried that the Islamic State group will come after them with force. In a recent interview, a senior Islamic State defector said their next stop would be Saudi Arabia, which includes Mecca and Medina. Its rulers are now in full panic, sending money to the Lebanese army, funding UN counter-terrorism efforts, and even getting senior Muftis to condemn the group. And there is reason for this panic. However for the moment their focus is firmly on the Middle East states.
The Islamic State is a direct descendant of AL-Qaeda, but there is one key difference: Its leaders believe fighting “apostates” is more important than fighting non-Muslims for now. They want to unite the Middle East under their banner before truly turning their sights on the US and Europe. In the eyes of many jihadis, the Islamic State has established the most successful and feared caliphate in recent history.
President Obama calls the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant a “cancer.” Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, describes ISIL as a “monster.” Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, ranks al-Qaeda and ISIL, also known as ISIS, as “Enemy No. 1″ of Islam. And President Hassan Rouhani of Iran warns Muslim states to beware of “these savage terrorists,” for “tomorrow you will be targeted,” too, by ISIL.
The unanimity of hatred and fear toward the ISIL militants rampaging through Syria and Iraq is testament both to the threat they pose and to an unusual opportunity. Not since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait 24 years ago have the region’s most powerful players expressed such animus toward a common enemy. That’s because ISIL’s goal of replacing national boundaries in the Middle East with a Sunni Muslim caliphate threatens not just the usual “infidels”—Christians, Jews, Shiites, and other non-Sunni Muslim minorities—but the nation-states themselves.
But make no mistake: The real threat from the Islamic State is to other Muslims in the Middle East. Sooner or later people across the Middle East will have to face up to this threat.