ISIS: The Real Threat

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Yoram Schweitzer - In recent months the Islamic State has made itself the de facto replacement of al-Qaeda as the jihadist terror organization endangering world peace. Without minimizing the achievements of IS, the secret of its power rests primarily on the weakness of its enemies. So far, IS has made territorial gains only in Iraq and in limited areas of Syria, two failed states whose central governments suffer from a lack of legitimacy among their citizens and ineffective control of large parts of their territory. Should IS try to extend its conquests to areas of Iraq where there is an established Shiite population, it may well encounter a fighting population protected by an Iranian military force and deeper involvement of Western countries, as happened when it threatened to penetrate the heart of the Kurdish region of Iraq. A similar response is expected if IS dares to confront Jordan or Turkey. For that reason, its threats to make similar advances against other countries of the region are weak. The main danger posed by IS concerns its ability both to channel money and advanced weapons to terror organizations active in the region, and to make the territory it controls an impervious haven. An area of this sort controlled by an extremist, messianic organization such as IS will enable jihadist Salafist terror groups from all over the world to find refuge, and use it as their base for further terror activity. It will turn the al-Qaeda dream of two decades ago into the nightmare reality of this decade.

2014-08-22 00:00:00

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