Firstly to my brothers and sisters fighting over whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the Caliph or not: you are engaged in a futile waste of time. Time will tell whether the nascent proto-polity IS have established manages to last and develop the defining features required for informed political analysts to characterise it as a “state”. Again, only time will tell whether it manages to expand and acquire new territory or collapses under a possible future Western/Iranian (perhaps both) backed counter offensive. It’s one thing to wrest vast tracts of sparsely inhabited desert wasteland (and admittedly one big city and a few mid sized towns) from the tenuous grip of a demoralised militia-cum-army and quite another to take on professional, well equipped, standing armies augmented with effective air power (lobbing barrels out of a helicopter doesn’t count) and an abundance of heavy artillery. Like I say time will tell.
But in this morass of claim and counter claim there is a wider point that is being missed; one that all impartial observers to the unfolding events in Iraq and Syria will attest to. Whether the Caliphate of IS lasts or not the genie they have unleashed is well and truly out of the bottle and there is no forcing it back. In an age of mass media where images, videos and declarations can be shared with hundreds of millions at the touch of a button the concept of a unitary Islamic state spannning the middle east and beyond has been indelibly stamped onto the minds and psyche of an entire generation of young Muslim aspirants stretching from Casablanca to Jakarta. What their parent’s generation had told them was infeasible – an echo from a long passed epoch now emanating from the realms of pernicious fantasy – has either been realised (for those that accept the caliphate of IS) or at the very least shown to be a distinct possibility. The failure of the colonial endeavour in the Middle East, predicated upon the supposition that the “threat” of the Muslim world might be contained by its forcible division into nation-states overseen by pliant despots, has been laid bare. The impetus this has provided for the ascendant generation of “islamists” and “jihadists” cannot be overstated.
It would also be foolish to think that what IS have managed to achieve by their elimination of the Sykes-Picot designated border between Iraq and Syria doesn’t weigh on the mind of at least one general or high ranking officer in the Arab armies of Saudi, Jordan and Egypt. Every day the IS state is in existence is a day shortened off the lifetime of these remaining Arab nation-states and whether the final blow is struck from within or at the hands of IS, the end result is the same- these regimes are living on borrowed time.
Whereas 20 years ago the US would have been in a position to intervene directly to abort the re-birth of an Islamic Caliphate, now it is a power in retreat, entangled in countless on-going political/military stand offs across the world that it can scarcely afford. The behaviour in recent years of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran has confirmed the waning satus of the former sole superpower and collapsing under the weight of it’s national debt, it can now only observe events from afar, making sporadic vain efforts to coerce it’s hitherto obsequious regional allies into doing its bidding. Saudi Arabia recently made public its inention to pursue its own foreign policy objectives decoupled from US strategic planning for the Middle East and their decision is emblematic of the huge loss of power and prestige the US has suffered across the region and indeed across the globe over these past 10 years.
Whether it’s Baghdadi’s or whether it’s the Mahdi’s or whether it’s A N Other’s, one thing is certain – the Caliphate is coming. So while we mourn the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Syria, CAR, Kashmir, Burma, and of course Gaza let’s also be joyful that the darkness that has for so long engulfed us is about to pass to be replaced by the light of divine guidance.
Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar wa lillahil-hamd!
May the peace and blessings of Allah (swt) be upon our master Muhammad, the seal of the Prophets.