Fear the Caliphate

Updated: September 11, 2014


By Left Of the Boom

In the last few hundred years there has not been an official caliphate in the Muslim world. There have been many pretenders to the throne but few have gained the power the title implied and the last caliphate ended with the destruction and carving up of the Ottoman Empire in 1924. The Caliphate is the sum of all Muslims everywhere under one nation and one ruler, the Caliph.

The Islamic State has made some grandiose claims that they will establish the next Caliphate with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Caliph a title which he has already claimed. It may all be a delusion but the power of the Caliph in the Muslim world could not be denied.

There is doubt in the United States, in Russia, in Europe that the Islamic State can pull off the dream of the caliphate. They look at groups such as Boko Haram, who have also claimed to have established a caliphate in Africa, and they believe that the Islamic State is the same.

They are wrong. Dismiss the idea if you must but do not dismiss the attempt or the threat it poses. This is not impossible. Unlikely as it may be, it is still possible. That is the threat we must accept.

al-Baghdadi intends to be the successor of Muhammad. This is a dramatic statement and would tend to stretch his credibility with the single exception that the Saudi King Abdullah has gone public with stating that the United States needs to do something about the Islamic State.

The Saudi King, publicly, showing his concern, publicly. I am not sure you realize just how important that is. For him to comment publicly means he is worked up about it. He might be afraid to lose his own power but that does not lower the threat to us.

The Middle East is afraid of the Islamic State and what it can become. Muslims make up over 1 billion people with the vast majority located in a belt from Northern Africa to Malaysia. The predominant sect is Sunni. And they encompass somewhere around 90% of Islam.

The Islamic State is Sunni and for the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Islam has been victorious on the battlefield and they can claim to have been victorious in Iraq against the United States since they owe their start to Al Qaeda in Iraq as their founding organization.

We might not want to give them credit for a victory over the United States but when you are a terror organization and you are still alive and fighting, that is a win both real and perceived. They have beaten the Syrians, the Iraqis, and matched the Kurds on the field of battle and that is something no other Islamic group can say.

I am not knocking my brothers and sisters who paid in blood to kill Al Qaeda in Iraq. But like cancer, enough of the malignancy survived to re-establish itself and the Islamic State was born. That counts as a win in anyone’s column. And there is nothing like victory to gain popularity.

That prestige is gaining them followers. Their brutal tactics gain them more. To the Sunni mindset, al-Baghdadi has the potential to be Robin Hood and the Islamic State is the Merry men who have the wrath of Allah on their side for a change. Success is a major force multiplier.

The moderate nations of the Middle East are scared of the power that the Islamic State is gaining. I might dismiss the analysis coming out of Washington but it is much more difficult to presume that the lead nation in Islam, also the richest nation, Saudi Arabia, does not understand their people.

shutterstock_214665796The Saudi government has been cracking down on anyone attempting to join IS. They have encouraged the issuing of Fatwa’s to prevent Muslims from joining IS from other countries. This is how concerned they are and that provides validity to the claims that IS can make.

From the Arabic point of view, they see chaos from Africa to India. National Identity and religious Identity are undermining and overlapping each other to the point that no one is sure which side they are supposed to be on.

In this confusion the only true winner is the Islamic State. The reason, they offer security of purpose, victory on the battlefield, and someone who claims to be the successor to Muhammad. The perception may be greater than the reality but perception counts.

So you have a choice. You can believe that al-Baghdadi is a madman with delusions of grandeur who will get quite a few people in the Middle East killed before he finally fades into oblivion or dies.

You may also want to take his stated ambitions seriously. He does have a chance to pull off what he claims. A chance that even Al Qaeda recognizes. He is getting funding, he has oil, he occupies parts of Syria and Iraq and so far, no one has been able to slow him down. And individuals from foreign nations are flocking to his banner.

These are not just the poor goat herders but well to do middle class people who are coming to him in droves and they bring something that does not exist in large numbers in the Middle East, education and a world view that is more than just dirt and hard scrabble existence.

It is easy to convince the poor with little to lose or gain. It is much more difficult to convince those who have something worth losing but who show up because they want to believe. America saw what disaffected youth could do in the 60’s when we underwent our own cultural revolution. It would be beyond stupid to ignore the threat that potential has now.

That very same potential is enough justification of a threat that the Islamic State poses to the world to destroy them. The problem is that no one in Washington has the balls to try. The President doesn’t have a plan and cannot find one either because he will not listen, or because the people he put in charge of coming up with the plan are in fact, the idiots we always thought they were.

This is the point in time where we have to make some hard choices. Whether or not the Islamic State can pull off the Caliphate and rule the Muslim world is not the issue. The issue is that they think they can and a great many people in the Middle East think they can and if they do, or even come close, they will be a force to be reckoned with for the next few decades.

If you think we have had problems with the Middle East before, you have not seen anything yet if this happens. Nearly a billion Sunni Muslims all answering to one leader will be a threat to world stability that cannot be ignored.

The American people may be tired of war. We have spent a lot of money and we have a lot of debt. Here are your choices. Do nothing and hope that the Islamic State does not carry out an attack against American interests or on American soil.

Begin a series of half measures that will cost military lives, spend more money than advertised by the government and might touch off WWIII since there are other nations getting involved for various reasons.

Gear up and lock and load and take the hard fight straight to the Islamic State. Give them credit for the threat they pose, and crush them mercilessly because of that threat.

I don’t want to live in a world with a unified Islamic State under the brutality they inflict to all around them and neither do you.

A ‘regional strategy’ is not going to fix this. A coalition invites the Green on Blue attacks we have witnessed in Afghanistan, complicated rules of engagement and command structure, and ridiculous double standards. We want the world’s cooperation to stay out of the way, allow crossing of certain borders for access, acceptance to stomp Syria in the process, and monetary assistance to pay for the operations.

Screw a regional strategy. This is time for tactical action. We need to stomp this now before it has a chance to grow worse.



One Comment

  1. Madurin

    September 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Outstanding analysis. Left of the Boom once again shows a cutting intelligence and concise writing style. Great article, Rhino Den!

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