Islamic State’s Bloody Ramadan, and What It Means

Islamic State, like many terrorist groups, takes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as an especially propitious time for murder. As this particular Ramadan draws to a close, IS-linked attacks have cumulatively claimed over 300 dead in Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, and Saudi Arabia. Max Boot draws some conclusions from this latest wave of bloodshed:

A common refrain . . . has been that these attacks are [a] response to the territorial losses that IS has recently suffered. . . . [A]nalysts and U.S. government officials suggest that IS is trying show it is still relevant by expanding operations outside its core “caliphate.” That may well be the case. Or it may be that IS has been planning a campaign of terrorist attacks abroad all along and would have carried them out whether it was losing ground or not. We simply don’t know enough to offer a definitive answer.

The fact remains that, even in its currently weakened condition, IS is the most potent terrorist group on earth—indeed, perhaps the strongest in history. . . . It has the potential to wreak havoc for years to come, in whatever form it takes. Obviously it would be greatly advantageous to destroy its physical control of territory in Iraq and Syria—this is what makes possible its huge stream of income (which comes from “taxation” of the people under its control and various criminal rackets, as well as oil production) and provides it with space to train and indoctrinate recruits. It also contributes to the aura of success that has been such a big part of its allure for would-be terrorists around the world.

But while destroying the caliphate will undoubtedly diminish the IS threat, it probably won’t eliminate that threat. Like al-Qaeda, of which it was once an affiliate, IS shows a dismaying ability to adapt to adversity. . . .

[And] even if the IS threat is eventually diminished, other terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda wait in the wings. Indeed, the greatest beneficiaries of the anti-IS campaign in Iraq and Syria may be other Sunni and Shiite terrorist organizations that are eager to rush into the vacuum.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Ramadan, War on Terror

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship