Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Caliphate can wait. But attacks against the West don't

A think tank linked to a charitable research foundation established by Tony Blair reckons that majority of Syrian rebels are Islamists with one third sharing the ideology of the ISIS. Fewer than a quarter were not ideological which is not to say that they are anti-Islamist. Putting aside the veracity of the research, the report ends with an interesting warning: the destruction of the caliphate can trigger a backlash of revenge attacks.

In this respect, I should notice a widely held consensus until very recently that the ISIS had been prioritizing its expansion in the Middle East over attacks in the West and elsewhere outside the region. This conclusion is partly born out by the ISIS propaganda which consistently aimed at luring Western jihadists along with their families to the Middle East.

With the West and Russia piling up the pressure on the caliphate and recently targeting its oil facilities, they are pushing the global jihadism towards a major strategic conclusion: The Caliphate is impossible until the West is defeated and chased away from the Muslim lands. It basically means a paradigmatic shift and a break with the ISIS original approach copied by Al Nusra and some other groups. Caliphate building or defeating the Shia and pseudo Shia regimes in Iraq/Syria should take a backseat with the primary focus of the global jihadism switching to attacks against the West and Russia.

By BBC News () {

The Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, says that Syria now hosts the largest gathering of jihadi groups in modern times.

The report, due to be published on Monday, says the greatest danger to the international community are groups who share the IS ideology but are currently being ignored - they number about 100,000 fighters.

Some 60% of Syria's major rebel groups are Islamist extremists, and many of the groups share the same aims, the study finds.

Fewer than a quarter of the rebels surveyed were not ideological, and many were willing to fight alongside extremists and would probably accept an Islamist political settlement to the civil war.

And even if IS is defeated, dispersed fighters and other extremists could attack targets outside Syria under a rallying cry that "the West destroyed the Caliphate", the centre warns.

Source = Third of rebels share IS aims, report claims }