What is ISIS?

ISIS have survived into 2016, they show little sign of the complete collapse that many anticipated. Despite reams of paper and hours of news real many have little idea of what the Islamic State is and how it operates. Beyond there own wildly publicised executions and terror acts there lies a complex and organised state able to acquire resources and land like no other rebel group in the Middle East. They have risen out of the ashes of civil war and decades of imperialist intervention.  Along with there affiliates they have taken control of territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. They recruit by exploiting anger at Islamphobia and and chauvinism of states like the UK, USA, and Russia, but at the same time whip up and encourage air-strikes and racism.

isis-palmyra
An IS flag flies over the Roman theatre in Palmyra, now used as a place of execution

They keep a grip on our collective consciousness by almost continuous violence and terror. The slaughter of Yazidies and Shia, bombing attacks across the Middle East, Turkey, and now France, the brutal treatment of captured women, and the execution of aid workers and journalists have shocked a world used to atrocities in the region. And yet they have stayed in power since 2013, collecting taxes exporting oil, and co-opting the remnants of the Iraqi state.

Saudi Ikhwan - Islam - Peter Crawford
A Wahhabist militia, known as Ikhwan, used by The House of Saud to conquer the Arabian Penisula

ISIS are a group bound to Wahhabism, that claims to be fighting a Holy War as a prologue to the end of the world. A holy army that uses the rementas of a secular Ba’athist army and state.

Are ISIS a death cult or a state? Will they be wiped out by a coalition western powers dropping bombs? How long will they last?

Have a watch of the illuminating documentary Bitter lake, by Adam Curtis:

And if that’s sparked your interest check out some of the texts from the reading list:

All Welcome:

Wednesday, 6th January, 6:30pm in the Owain Glyndwr.

 

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