ISIS: A Risk Assessment

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Yoram Schweitzer - The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is indeed part of the global jihad movement, which seeks to establish a Taliban-style caliphate under Islamic law in the Levant region. However, ISIS victories in Iraq result more from Prime Minister al-Maliki's lack of public legitimacy and the weakness of the Iraqi army, than from its military power and talent. ISIS has succeeded in hanging its flags primarily in areas that evinced a lack of interest and resistance by the local populace, which sometimes even assisted the group because of their repudiation of al-Maliki. The arrogance displayed by ISIS and the media circus surrounding it far exceed what is warranted by its size. In practice, ISIS lacks the ability to fully control and manage the regions it has conquered in Iraq, and even more to force the residents of these areas to accept fundamentalist Islamic law. The main danger comes from the enormous economic capital ISIS accumulated in Iraq when it took over the banks in areas abandoned by the Iraqi army. The group will likely exploit these resources to expand its operations in other arenas, including Israel. The writer, a veteran of the Israeli intelligence community, is head of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at INSS.

2014-06-24 00:00:00

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