Watching events unfold is Iraq has been front and center over the past week, and there is nothing to suggest even more unsettling headlines will not be made this week. Once again people turn to newspapers when there is a need to know more than just the first paragraph type of information when the world is facing crisis. One of the reporters that I have come to rely on for the news that gives context to Iraq is Matt Bradley.
Today a few lines jumped from his article and made for the news we need to know.
By emphasizing practical gains over ideology and placing a premium on battlefield victories rather than lofty principals, Mr. Baghdadi’s ISIS has become one of the most powerful militant Islamist groups, said experts on militant Islamism.
While ISIS shares much of the same ideology and jihadist vocabulary as al Qaeda, it differs on methodology. Whereas al Qaeda, which got its start during the resistance against the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s, behaves as a terrorist organization advancing a global ideology, ISIS in many ways acts like the army of a sovereign nation with defined borders and a semi-legitimate system of governance.
By understanding how ISIS differs in real ways from al Qaeda underscores the seriousness of what needs to be contemplated for options as the west moves forward with some policy ideas.
While there is no doubt that ISIS must be defeated in its goal of establishing some form of a ‘nation’ it also needs mentioning that the region’s Islamic community must not be led to believe that any attack from the West on Sunni groups equates to some bitterness over Islam in general. It simply does not. Yet that is the very image that ISIS is stoking and calculating on to play to their advantage.
The dream of a real Islamic state is what separates ISIS from all that came before. The manner in which they are operating to achieve success is what most concerns me.