November 16, 2015

SELF-DEFEAT:

The Attacks in Paris Reveal the Strategic Limits of ISIS (OLIVIER ROYNOV. 16, 2015, NY Times)

 ISIS is hardly an Islamic "state," if only because, unlike the Taliban, it claims no specific territory or boundaries. It is more like a caliphate, forever in conquest mode -- occupying new lands, rallying Muslims from around the world -- like the Muslim expansionist movement during Islam's first century. This feature has attracted thousands of volunteers, drawn by the idea of fighting for global Islam rather than for a piece of the Middle East.

But ISIS' reach is bounded; there are no more areas in which it can extend by claiming to be a defender of Sunni Arab populations. To the north, there are Kurds; to the east, Iraqi Shiites; to the west, Alawites, now protected by the Russians. And all are resisting it. To the south, neither the Lebanese, who worry about the influx of Syrian refugees, nor the Jordanians, who are still reeling from the horrid execution of one of their pilots, nor the Palestinians have succumbed to any fascination for ISIS. Stalled in the Middle East, ISIS is rushing headlong into globalized terrorism.

The attack against Hezbollah in Beirut, the attack against the Russians in Sharm el Sheikh and the attacks in Paris had the same goal: terror. But just as the execution of the Jordanian pilot sparked patriotism among even the heterogeneous population of Jordan, the attacks in Paris will turn the battle against ISIS into a national cause. ISIS will hit the same wall as Al Qaeda: Globalized terrorism is no more effective, strategically, than conducting aerial bombings without forces on the ground. Much like Al Qaeda, ISIS has no support among the Muslim people living in Europe. It recruits only at the margins.

Posted by at November 16, 2015 7:28 PM

  

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