Friday, August 29, 2014

A second Sunni Awakening?

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer August 28, WashPost

ISTANBUL

What are the strengths of the Islamic State? I posed this question to two deeply knowledgeable observers — a European diplomat and an American former official — and the picture they painted is worrying, although not hopeless. Defeating the group would require a large and sustained strategic effort from the Obama administration, but it could be done without significant numbers of U.S. ground troops.

The European diplomat, stationed in the Middle East, travels in and out of Syria and has access to regime and opposition forces. (Both sources agreed to speak only if their identities were not revealed.) He agrees with the consensus that the Islamic State has gained considerable economic and military strength in recent months. He estimates that it is making $1 million a day each in Syria and Iraq by selling oil and gas, although U.S. experts believe this number is too high in Iraq.

The Islamic State’s military strategy is brutal but also smart. The group’s annual reports — it has issued them since 2012 — detail its military methods and successes to try to impress its backers. The videos posted online of executions are barbaric but also strategic. They are designed to sow terror in the minds of opponents who, when facing Islamic State fighters on the battlefield, now reportedly flee rather than fight.

But the most dangerous aspect of the Islamic State, this diplomat believes, is its ideological appeal. It has recruited marginalized, disaffected Sunni youths in Syria and Iraq who believe they are being ruled by apostate regimes. This appeal to Sunni pride has worked largely because of the sectarian policies of the Baghdad and Damascus governments. But the Islamic State has also grown because of the larger collapse of moderate, secular and even Islamist institutions and groups — such as the Muslim Brotherhood — throughout the Middle East.

(More here.)

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home