Will the ‘caliphate’ be around a year from now?
It has been a year since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), changed his name to Ibrahim and declared himself caliph of the Islamic caliphate on lands belonging to two established states — Iraq and Syria. The franchise has since expanded to many other places in the region.
By ignoring international frontiers, ISIS basically has voided the Sykes-Picot agreement that established the borders of the Middle East at the close of World War I.
But then ISIS is trying to wipe the region’s geopolitical slate clean. It is establishing new parameters in which all is permitted, including removal of borders and ethnic and sectarian cleansing that tries to implement a totalitarian and fanatical vision of the world.
Until now, the various groups fighting for power in the region tended to respect old borders. That is no longer the case. The region’s map is being fundamentally challenged. States of the region can lay claim to other countries’ territories. Minorities, too.
Before too long, they are all likely to do so.
With very few independent media reports coming out of the region held by ISIS, it is difficult to offer a precise idea of what day-to-day life is like for those living there.
The few reports that have filtered out tell of horrifying cruelty and atrocities, especially against women and minorities. It is incredible that such brutality and backwardness can be presented as a possible way of life.
The leaders of ISIS claim they are imposing the purest interpretation of Islam.
They are in reality trying to impose an anachronistic and vicious vision of the faith that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who yearn for peaceful coexistence and progress.
The Islamic caliphate self-servingly picks and chooses what aspects of modern life it can accept.
While it declares itself the nemesis of modernity, it does not shy away from using and abusing the internet to shock and horrify worldwide audiences and put forward its nihilistic ideas. It spends millions of dollars on the latest cinematography equipment to depict its barbaric behaviour.
In its propaganda videos, ISIS shows prisoners being forced to repeat the slogan “the Islamic State is here to stay”.
Whether the so-called caliphate is around for a second anniversary will depend on to what extent the world faces up to this threat. It will depend in particular on the ability of Muslims to deprive this dangerous phenomenon of all legitimacy and support.