The Origins of ISIS: A Radical Brand of Islam at War with Modernity

(Project Syndicate) Shlomo Ben-Ami - The Islamic State (ISIS) is a symptom of a deeper malady. The fundamental problem consists of an existential struggle between utterly dysfunctional states and an obscenely savage brand of theocratic fanaticism. With most Middle East regimes having exhausted their limited stores of legitimacy, Israel, Iran, and Turkey - all non-Arab-majority countries - are probably the region's only genuinely cohesive nation-states. For years, key states in the region like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have essentially paid protection money to jihadists. The Arab fundamentalist monarchies played a role in reviving the seventh-century vision that ISIS (and others) seek to realize. ISIS' army of psychopaths and adventurers was launched as a "startup" by Sunni magnates in the Gulf who envied Iran's success with its Lebanese Shia proxy, Hizbullah. The Arab Middle East is not susceptible to quick fixes. It requires profound indigenous change that might take the better part of this century to produce. For now, turning the caliphate into yet another failed state in the region seems to be the best possible outcome. The writer, a former Israeli foreign minister, is vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace in Spain.

2015-12-08 00:00:00

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