Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

The Rise of Islamic State - ISIS & the New Sunni Revolution

The Rise of the Islamic State - ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.
By Patrick Cockburn. Verso, London/New York, 2014/2015.


Book Review by Jim Miles

When observed from the mainstream media perspective, the rise of ISIS was an apparent ‘out of nowhere’ phenomenon. It only found prominence when they approached Irbil, the Kurdish ‘oil’ city where western companies manoevered for resource control. It was then that it became mainstream newsworthy, and then that the U.S. ordered its bombing campaign and the ouster of Maliki, who was blamed for the ills of Iraq and its ghost army.

In clear concise language and format, Patrick Cockburn presents a more realistic story of the rise of ISIS in his latest work, The Rise of the Islamic State. Rather than being a sudden event, it is seen to be a logical progression of events backgrounded by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

As the wars in the Middle East have progressed they have become more and more violent. It started with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, aided and abetted by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan’s ISI. After successfully getting rid of Soviet forces, those “freedom fighters” morphed into the Taliban, where the ideology of al-Qaeda grew its protected roots.

When Iraq was illegally attacked unilaterally by the U.S. in 2003, al-Qaeda found a new place to spread its influence where it had not been before. At first it found support with the disenfranchised Sunni tribes, later minimized by the “Awakening” - the U.S. big dollar effort to buy out the Sunni leaders.

After the war in Iraq, a highly unstable state was left behind, essentially divided into three parts: Kurds in the northeast, Sunnis in the west, and the Shia in the south. The continuing internecine fighting waged since the U.S. departure has mostly been under the radar of the western news networks. Add to that the new and increasingly fierce fighting by the civil war in Syria, pitting the Assad government, back stopped by Russia, against a web of opposition groups backed by the U.S. and its allies.

The combination of disaffected Sunnis - many former military personnel, many affected by the Sunni-Shia fighting - and well supplied and trained fundamentalist Islamic groups - again with U.S. and Saudi direction - in Syria coalesced into ISIS, a new bigger, badder, meaner, and much more efficient fighting organization.

Because of historical precedents, Cockburn indicates that it is unlikely the “Sunnis will rise up in opposition to ISIS and its caliphate. A new and terrifying state has been born that will not easily disappear.”

The U.S. is acknowledged as being highly to blame for this sequence of events, much more so than Iraq and Syria as stand alone countries, or Turkey as an anti-Kurd, quasi-ISIS supporter.

“There was always something fantastical about the U.S. and its Western allies teaming up with the theocratic Sunni absolute monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to spread democracy and enhance human rights in Syria, Iraq, and Libya….ISIS is the child of war….It was the U.S., Europe, and their regional allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and [UAE] that created conditions for the rise of ISIS.”

In other words, if ISIS is the child of war, then the U.S. is one of its parents. The Sunni resurgence in Iraq was not an overnight sensation, but had a gestation period of several years.

“A blind spot for the U.S….has been their failure to see that by supporting the armed uprising in Syria, they would inevitably destabilize Iraq and provoke a new round of sectarian civil war….ISIS has been able to exploit the growing sense of alienation and persecution among the Sunni in Iraq.”

Cockburn brings events right up to October 2014, noting that the then imminent pushback of ISIS from Kobani had not prevented ISIS from progressing elsewhere in Anbar province. His presentation is reasonably short and provides a clear summary exposition of whom is involved within the ISIS nexus. It should serve as an honest primer on the overall situation with current events in the Middle East.

The only point I could argue on is the repetition that the war on terror has “failed so catastrophically,” “failed miserably”, and “has demonstrably failed.” I can see both sides to the position.

When looking at the narrow definition of the war on terror as an actual war on terror, yes it has failed by creating many more terrorists in response to its many violent actions that tend to target much more than just terrorists. But no, it has not failed if the goal is to maintain U.S. control over regions through failed states, corrupt states, or otherwise.

After reading PNAC’s “Project for a New American Century”, having digested Paul Wolfowitz’ “Defence Policy Plan” under G.W.H. Bush that called for full spectrum dominance and unilateral pre-emptive nuclear war, after reading sections of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “Grand Chessboard”, and while watching Israel continue annexing more and more territory while staying out of the U.S. wars in the region, perhaps the war on terror could at best be considered a draw.

It is not accomplishing its publicly stated purpose, but it is maintaining U.S. dominance for its geopolitical agenda of controlling resources and politicians. And it is useful for maintaining the ‘fear factor’ for domestic political usage for most western governments.

Regardless, The Rise of Islamic State is a worthy read, clearly defining the major roles and events of this long developing story.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Ian Powell: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?

On 19 June the Sunday Star Times published my column on the relationship between the Labour government’s stewardship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system and the outcome of the next general election expected to be around September-October 2023: Is the health system an electoral sword of Damocles for Labour... More>>


The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Predictable Monstrosities: Priti Patel Approves Assange’s Extradition
The only shock about the UK Home Secretary’s decision regarding Julian Assange was that it did not come sooner. In April, Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring expressed the view that he was “duty-bound” to send the case to Priti Patel to decide on whether to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 grafted from the US Espionage Act of 1917... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>