Islamic State May Be Losing Territory, but It Won’t Give Up on Winning It Back

Since Islamic State (IS) has lost nearly all of its territory in Iraq and been driven from its major urban redoubts in eastern Syria, many observers have predicted it will reinvent itself as a global terrorist organization. As such, it is said, the group will focus its energy on staging attacks on civilians rather than taking and holding territory. Robin Simcox is not so sure:

So long as IS wants to keep on fighting—and clearly, it does—it has little choice but to revert to guerrilla tactics. However, it would be a mistake to think of this as anything other than a temporary tactical pivot. The terrorist group’s overall strategy will not change. IS still aspires to hold territory, govern, and ultimately restore a caliphate—with an appointed caliph—ruled by sharia law. This is integral to the raison d’être of not just IS but Islamist groups generally.

The creation of a caliphate is a key tenet of Islamism. In 1938, Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated that the Brotherhood believed “the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and an indication of the bonds between the nations of Islam.” For that reason, he said, its “re-establishment [is] a top priority.” . . .

Beyond the political and theological motivations, IS has a host of practical reasons for seizing and holding land. Controlling large amounts of territory allows it to create safe havens from which to plan terrorist attacks outside its immediate sphere of influence—such as the IS-directed Paris attacks that killed 130 innocents and wounded hundreds more in November 2015.

Moreover, territorial control allows control over people—and not just those already living in the occupied area. The 2014 announcement of a caliphate led tens of thousands of Muslims to move there. And controlling more territory and people also means a larger cash flow—provided in the 2014-17 caliphate via taxation, extortion, and selling oil, antiquities, and the like. Therefore, Islamic State cannot . . . restrict itself to hit-and-run raids, car bombings, and trucks mowing down pedestrians. The need to govern is real.

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More about: Iraq, ISIS, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics & Current Affairs, Syria, War on Terror

 

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat