Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Wider Significance of ISIL?

 "We should understand that there is really almost
nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch" 

There is an interesting analysis by Alastair Crooke of the nature of ISIL and its significance for the future of the Middle East ( 'Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia' Huffington Post 2nd September 2014). "ISIS is a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East". Crooke notes the significance placed by Saudi writers on the intentional adoption by ISIL of Wahhabist phraseology and putting into practice the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab's vision. He suggests that the group is deliberately "lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion - one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively". Crooke, presenting a fairly detailed account of the rise of the Saudi state and its relationships with western powers such as Britain and the US,  argues that the true destructive power of ISIL is not as commonly understood:
It is not with the "March of the Beheaders"; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of "justice" - terrible though they are - that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars. Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere - in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East.  The clue to its truly explosive potential [...] is ISIS' deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine - of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project [...] Abd al-Wahhab's doctrine [was] that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God - who was alone worthy of worship - was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim. He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of "unbelievers." They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab's vision of Islam - or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.
 "As Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab made it such in the 18th century; and as the Saudi Ikhwan made it such in the 20th century, ISIS' real target must be the Hijaz -- the seizure of Mecca and Medina -- and the legitimacy that this will confer on ISIS as the new Emirs of Arabia".

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