Red (Team) Analysis

Editorial – The Caliphate, War in Syria and Beyond – The victorious offensive of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq should not come as a surprise. It has been in the making for quite a while, the “while” changing according to the perspective, starting with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. led coalition and their destruction of the Iraqi state apparatus (see notably Paul Mutter, “Maliki’s most solemn hour“, The Arabist).

Nevertheless, the impacts of the capture of Mosul are multiple and crucial. ISIS has not only expanded its territorial basis, but it has also won moral and “face”, resources, including large amount of money, becoming the wealthiest Islamist competing state actor (and not “non-state actor”, or “terrorist group” because those ideas tend to be confusing, hiding real objectives and leading thus to wrong answers) and weapons (among others see notably Jack Moore, “Mosul Seized: Jihadis Loot $429m from City’s Central Bank to Make Isis World’s Richest Terror Force“, IBT). Those, together, will enhance the mobilization power of ISIS as well as its capabilities, probably facilitating and accelerating further victories.

The fate of the war in Syria may very well have been modified as a consequence, making notably our scenario 3.1. An Islamic Al Sham more likely but still not immediate as the scenario seeing the continuity of war remains the most probable. We shall most probably see more intense fighting as other actors increase their support to their favourite side. Could we also see as a result a temporary alliance of all sides against ISIS, that would somehow be spearheaded by the latest rapprochement between Turkey and Iran (e.g. AJE “Iran and Turkey want Middle East stability“). This does not seem very likely, including considering the “New Cold War” and continuing insurgency and “anti terrorist operation” in Ukraine, but it cannot be ruled out.

A further regionalization of the war seems likely, as tension and fear escalate, and as the aim of ISIS is to reestablish a Caliphate: compare the photo of the earth from Google map in feature image, with the Map of the Caliphate in 750 by Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911, below.

Caliphate, ISIS, Iraq, Syria, weak signal, Red (Team) Analysis

Various state actors will act to try stopping all threats seen as Islamist, according to their own most pressing needs. Obvious potential flash-points, where we have risks of rising tension and interventions are Libya, Lebanon. How will Egypt and the Gulf States react to counter the rising threat? May Jordan remain an oasis of peace and calm in those circumstances?

The impact of ISIS advance may also be felt as far as China, which has had to face an increase in allegedly Islamist attacks lately, as well as globally, notably through a rise in energy prices.

How will the U.S., which does not want military intervention anymore, and Europe answer, when ISIS and the Caliphate philosophy (see detail in scenario 3.1. Ibid) are about war and military conquest? Shall we see as a result  international norms evolve, further away from the primacy of peace and the outlaw of war?

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Risk, war, Iraq, ISIS, strategic warning, horizon scanning, weak signal, Caliphate