Articles on Caliphate

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ISIS fighters celebrating in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014. Criminological studies suggest terrorists would use diverse tactics to neutralise feelings of guilt. Reuters

How ISIS terrorists neutralise guilt to justify their atrocities

Do ISIS fighters feel guilty about the violence they perpetrate? Not likely, according to criminological research, which suggests terrorists "neutralise" their guilt, just as many other criminals do.
Without the perfect-storm conditions of post-invasion insurgency, this most potent expression of al-Qaedaism yet would never have risen to dominate both the Middle East and the world in the way that it does. Reuters/Stringer

Out of the ashes of Afghanistan and Iraq: the rise and rise of Islamic State

The final article of our series on the historical roots of Islamic State examines the role recent Western intervention in the Middle East played in the group's inexorable rise.
The century since the first world war is littered with the broken promises of Muslim rulers to bring about a transition to more representative forms of government. AAP/Asmaa Abdelatif

How the political crises of the modern Muslim world created the climate for Islamic State

The rise of Islamic State and its declaration of the caliphate can be read as part of a wider story that has unfolded since the formation of modern nation states in the Muslim world.
Map of the Sykes–Picot Agreement showing Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia, and areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French in May 1916. Royal Geographical Society via Wikimedia Commons

The post-colonial caliphate: Islamic State and the memory of Sykes-Picot

The leaders of Islamic State do not see their caliphate as an exercise in theocracy for its own sake, but as an attempt at post-colonial emancipation.
A flag-waving Islamic State fighter takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province. Reuters/Stringer

Understanding Islamic State: where does it come from and what does it want?

How far back in history does one have to go to find the roots of the so-called Islamic State? The first article in our series on the genesis of the terrorist outfit considers some fundamentals.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as self-declared caliph, seeks to exploit the historical resonance of the caliphate for a brutal present-day cause. EPA/Furqan Media

Caliphate, a disputed concept, no longer has a hold over all Muslims

The Caliphate has inspired disputes among Muslims for centuries, but attempts at revival in modern times are unlikely to succeed. Most of the world's Muslims would not accept its authority over them.
At its core, Islamic State’s runaway success is not down to its military capability. Rather, it is due to Iraq’s political circumstances. Reuters

One year on, Islamic State is here to stay – so what next?

There are three key reasons why success for the West hasn’t followed. Together, these reasons point towards an urgent need to shift strategy to avoid a stalemate.
When Australians hear about Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s dire warnings and counter-terrorism raids, they could lose historical perspective on the threat posed by Islamic State. AAP/Mal Fairclough

With jihadists among us, is IS more of a threat than communism was?

Dire government warnings and counter-terrorism raids in our suburbs paint a picture of the worst threat Western nations have ever faced. A little historical perspective is in order.
Families cross the Euphrates River seeking the relative safety of Baghdad as Islamic State fighters advance with the goal of creating such violence that people turn from the government to any force capable of restoring peace. EPA/Ahmed Jalil

Islamic State theoreticians have honed plans for battle and a state

Islamic State is a project built on solid foundations by jihadist theorists with decades of experience. The savagery of terrorism precedes the next stage of a caliphate that delivers longed-for order.
The Ottoman Chief Eunuch was an influential figure. In this and other caliphates, eunuchs supervised the harem, the princes, the financial affairs of the palace and the mosques, as well as controlling access to the ruler. Photo postcard 1912

Islamic State lacks key ingredient to make ‘caliphate’ work: eunuchs

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed Islamic State (IS) as a Muslim caliphate on June 29, 2014, with himself as caliph, a term reserved for a successor to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His would be the newest…
Iraqi forces have retaken Tikrit but now face a united enemy. EPA/Alaa al-Shemaree

An ISIS caliphate is bad news for Iraq, Syria and everywhere else

After the death of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011, the global jihadist movement seemed to have become fragmented and considerably weakened. This happened for various reasons. First, the coincidence of the…

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