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THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD’S HOTBED: SITUATION AROUND THE “ISLAMIC STATE”

08.12.2015
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The situation in the Middle East, developed around the IS, is one of the most relevant conflicts in the world today, and it has few very interesting features. Firstly, the IS movement received a passionate momentum due to the “Arab Spring” ideas radicalization. Secondly, the IS claims the official status, although not recognized by any of the states that exist both in the Western and Islamic world. Third, the IS makes profit from use of the mineral resources in the controlled areas, financing this way its activities. Fourth, the IS has a clear religious-focused identity, which is not characteristic of the modern states and indicates the movement’s countersecular nature standing against both dissent and the (Western) modernity. Fifth, the situation has overlapped the political mood of revenge, when the representatives of the previous regime have to support in an open or secret manner the forces standing against the current government, which also came up to the government of a state with the ideal of revanchism.

ISIS appeared in 2006 on the basis of the “Al-Qaeda” Iraqi branch and some small radical groups, but for almost a decade had no much success and support. The burst of grouping’s activity occurred during 2014, when it separated from the “Al Qaeda”, moved outside the Iraq, and dramatically increased in numbers. This burst became possible, to a wide extent, due to the moderate forces failure trying to overthrow the authoritarian regimes in the course of the “Arab Spring”. Due to the inability of the moderate Islamists to impose its own discourse, reluctance of the authoritarian regimes to go into the dialogue with the rebels, as well as the military coup in Egypt, the radical groups entered the arena setting forth completely different goals and using different means. The radicals and adventurers from other regions began massively joint these groups, including from the Arab-Muslim world, Caucasus, Central Asia (the flow from here increased after the expulsion of illegal Muslim migrants from Russia, as a result of which the latter started returning home on a massive scale and created an aggressive competitive environment there). Since IS controls considerable financial flows, including, - from the sale of oil obtained within the occupied territories, a certain number of adventurers gets there selling the military experience and not necessarily sharing the ideas of the grouping. Other direct parties to the conflict in the Middle East are both other radical groups (Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish, Melkite, etc.) and the official armed forces of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other countries as well. The conflict around the “Islamic State” is also forced to speak out the main geopolitical players, most of whom condemned the actions of the IS and recognized the very formation as a terrorist one.

The problem of the political and social movements’ radicalization in the countries with no experience of Western liberal democracy is attributed to the fact that the parties to the process do not consider it necessary to engage into dialogue with the enemy, if it seems to be safe. That is, the rulers of such states neglect the peaceful popular movements and do not fulfil the public requests, if such requests are made amicably. On the other hand, the public is not always aware of the legitimate rules of making the requests, effective mechanisms for political decisions implementation, as a result of which such requests continue remaining the mere appeals in the social networks. Finally, when the opposition gets the authority, it begins to neglect the requests of its opponents, who lost the political power (as it happened in Egypt during the reign of Mohammed Mursi), which contributes to the further radicalization and escalation of the conflict. At the same time, the Western society mechanisms enable the establishment even through the illusory dialogue with society and moderate opposition movement to keep political control of the country. In particular, there is a speculation that a military coup in Egypt was supported by a greater part of the population since the “Muslim Brotherhood” failed to maintain active public dialogue with opponents continuing the authoritarian practice in adopting the political and personnel decisions remained by the President Hosni Mubarak.

IS claims the status of the state (Arab. al-Dawla) and on June 29, 2014 declared the Caliphate restoration and the head of the organization Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi received the caliph status. Thus, we are talking about formation, which considers itself not an organization, but the state, and the Islamic doctrine – the main source of legislation acknowledging only one religion as a true one. Hence the cruel treatment of the Shiites, Christians, Yazidis and unbelievers, and it forces the representatives of the relevant sectors (mainly Shiite) to engage into the swinging of the military conflict, or at least try to put pressure on the IS through the diplomatic channels (such as Yazidis). The mass media repeatedly reported the use of unlawful violence by Iraqi Shiites against Sunnis, who were suspected of sympathizing the IS and the Iraqi Sunni Mufti Rafi 'al-Rifai Taha al-Ani in his interviews constantly emphasizes the fact that the actions of the Shia militia is one of the reasons that compel the Sunnis in Iraq to support the IS. A similar situation is in Syria, where the IS and other Sunni groups are fighting with the Shiite troops, which support the regime of B. Assad. IS is not recognized as the state even by those countries that can be traced for a hypothetical connection to this formation. Especially the claim is questionable as to the caliphate status on the part of IS because it does not meet any degree of recognition neither from the formation itself, nor its leader in the Muslim world.

Claiming the real stateness within the certain territory the IS is different from the other radical Muslim organizations, for example, “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” and “Al-Qaeda” operating worldwide in the form of networks and approaching the “Taliban”. Stating claims for the stateness the “Islamic State” claims the territory of at least two countries (Iraq and Syria) wishing to unite all Muslim countries over the long term. It is exactly the focus on the state status and seizure of the territory considered a key characteristic of the “Islamic State”; for example, Ukrainian orientalist, Aleksandr Bogomolov distinguishes the IS from the classic terrorist organizations like IRA, aimed at upholding the independence of the Irish people. It is interesting that Bogomolov considers that the motivation to create such state formations as IS involves the confrontation against the western secular society through the conservative forces self-determination.

Focusing on a specific territory facilitates using of the territory’s resources, including minerals, IS gained the control over important oil fields, and smuggling (at dumping prices, two – three-fold less than the official oil price) to Europe and Asia has brought this formation many millions of dollars, used to finance further activity of the grouping. It should be noted that at the official level both the Government of Iraq and Syria with the support of the Air Forces of the Coalition and United Nations institutes are trying to prevent oil sales by the representatives of the IS, but the process is still going on at the smuggling level.

Religious identity is critical for the IS since it is an attempt to recreate the conditions for sharia implementation, which is the main message proclaimed by the supporters of al-Baghdadi. In this sense, it should be noted that the title of caliph, claimed by the latter, is not a political only, but the religious as well. On the other hand, the Caliphate status requires a much greater level of legitimization and claims of the Caliph title must be supported by a substantial reputation among Muslim scholars and religious leaders. The usurpation of this status by IS representatives has led to the fact that they are not recognized by the majority of Muslim scholars and none country of the Islamic world, but the uncritically minded radical groups around the world tend to them constantly joining the ranks of the fighters. Sunni Grand Mufti of Iraq does not criticize directly the IS, but at least takes part in the discourse regarding this formation calling honestly to admit the illegal actions on both sides as the unlawful without blaming for all the ills of Sunni radicals and their supporters. It can be argued that the lack of communication with traditional religious institutions leads to the fact that the bottom line is that both IS involves rather anti-Western and coutersecular oriented ideology than religious identity, when the activity in the fight against the West replaces the need for religious formation.

Another specific feature of the “Islamic State” is a certain revanchism in the actions of the opposing sides. In Iraq the confrontation revolves around the Shiite-Sunni issue, since the Shiites after the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein began to put pressure both on the officials of this regime from the “Baas” Party and Sunnis, which formerly dominated in the domestic politics of Iraq. As a result, the former ruling party representatives merged with the force that can oppose itself to the new official government, which leads to a constant escalation of the Shiite-Sunni issue, including – in the mass media, when both parties accuse each other of crimes against the civilian population. Finally, we can’t speak about the complete lack of the national issue on the agenda with respect to the situation in IS, because the process there involves the Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Turks and other peoples of the region.

 
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