The organisation calling itself the “Islamic State” (IS) was brought into the limelight in June 2014 through a series of conquests achieved in Northern and Central Iraqi provinces. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, exposed the momentum of the group and its proven ability to exploit its opponents’ weaknesses. Territorial gains in Iraq and Syria were followed by the “establishment” of a self-styled “caliphate” led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, presented by IS’s spokesman as “the imam [Muslim religious leader] and khalifah [Caliph] for the Muslims everywhere”. This report draws a comprehensive picture of IS and assesses its potential for development, while examining some of the main challenges associated with the implementation of the counter-strategy detailed by United States (U.S.) President Barack Obama in September 2014.
The first part of this report will explore the genesis, the structure and the resources of IS. Competition between IS and al-Qaeda (AQ) is a key to understanding the major fault line between Jihadist groups who are split over the issues of support and allegiance to render to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The second part of the report will put into perspective the funding and the governance capabilities of IS, the two essential prerequisites for the sustainability of IS’s activities and the prospective normalisation of its rule among communities under its influence and its control. It will also discuss the transnational process leading to the regionalisation and the globalisation of the threat. The final section of the report concludes by exploring stumbling blocks on the road to “defeat”. Forces of the anti-IS coalition face major obstacles, foremost among which are polarisation along religious lines, sectarian hatred and conflicting strategic perspectives.
About the Author
Romain Quivooij is an Associate Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He obtained his Master of Arts in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London. Prior to joining CENS, Romain worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the General Staff of the French Armed Forces. He was also an intern at the Institute of Strategic Research of the French Military School and the Emerging Security Threats programme of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. His research interests include radicalisation and de-radicalisation processes; online extremism; radical Islam and armed insurgent movements; counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency.
Conflict and Stability / Europe / Global / Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / Policy Reports / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Terrorism Studies
Last updated on 14/10/2015