How to counter the Islamic State


Nafeez Ahmed takes a look at the roots of the Islamic State (No Piers Morgan. This Is How to Destroy the Islamic State, Middle East Eye, 8 February 2015), arguing that IS should not be seen as a natural product of some inherent violence unique to Islam.

Ahmed argues instead that the radical group uses Islam as a means to gain legitimacy and support from the large numbers of people who witnessed, and were affected by, the huge death toll caused by Western actions in Iraq and elsewhere since the First Gulf War. Many of the fighters that support the Islamic State are motivated not by religion, but by political grievances and/or lack of prospects in life.

Islamist ideology is critical for one reason only: it provides a movement with no basis in Islam whatsoever the cultural and linguistic resources to manufacture an appearance of exclusive religious legitimacy, for people stupid and angry enough to swallow it.

As Ahmed notes, extremist groups held no sway in Iraq until after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the U.S. occupation in 2003. But “at least half a million Iraqi civilians were killed under the direct and indirect impacts of Anglo-American war and occupation, from 2003 to 2011.” The  mass violence and arbitrary torture that accompanied the occupation radicalized large swaths of people both in Iraq and elsewhere, convincing many that Muslims were under attack, and making extreme groups like IS seem like a viable means of resistance.

Ahmed also notes that the United States and other countries have been helping to fund armed groups in Syria in an effort to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, some of this funding ended up in the hands of individuals who went on to form the Islamic State.

In summary,

IS did not pop up out of the blue. They are not a product of Islam, or of “the Muslim world” and its inherent backwardness. IS, and its Nazi values, is a product of what we did to the region.

Read the full article here: No Piers Morgan. This Is How to Destroy the Islamic State

Photo credit:  Airman Magazine, Flickr

Tags: Iraq, IS, ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, Syria, Terrorism