Paris Atrocities – beginning of the end for the Jihadists?

Posted on Tuesday 1st December 2015

Former war correspondent and author of The Jihadist Threat Paul Moorcraft draws on his experiences to comment on recent tragic events in Paris and the effect they may have on the Islamic State.
The Paris atrocities may herald the final days of the Islamic State. Until recently the Jihadists’ amazingly rapid success made them seem invincible. And to many Muslims it did seem that Allah was backing the return of the caliphate. For a while it looked like the West would have to do a deal – as it did with the expansionist Ottoman caliphate that almost seized Vienna – twice. And just as in the time of the great Arab conquests after the death of Muhammad in the seventh century, the disunity of the rival powers, especially in Europe and the Middle East, allowed the Jihadists to conquer.
The tables are turning, however. The recent foreign attacks – Tunisia, Ankara, the bombing of the Russian plane flying from Sharm, then Beirut and now Paris – suggest the growing reach of the Islamic State. In fact it may indicate weakness. The power of the Kurdish militias inside Syria and Iraq plus Turkey’s tightening of its southern borders are making it harder for foreign believers to get into the new caliphate. It is running out of Western cannon fodder – one reason why it is urging its foreign supporters to take up arms at home. IS is also losing some of its top leadership to constant drone and bombing attacks. It is unclear how closely IS Central actually runs the foreign attacks, which in the case of Paris this month were well armed and carefully planned.
Paris also grabbed media attention away from a domestic IS crisis. Kurdish peshmerga special forces plus Yazidi volunteers, backed by US and British special forces and air power, managed to seize a large part of Sinjar town from IS control. This cut the supply route between the caliphate’s two main centres in Iraq and Syria, Mosul and Raqqah. Other alternative routes are much longer and are open to air interdiction.
IS meant to deter its enemies with the Paris and the Sharm spectaculars. Instead it has provoked them and united many enemies against the caliphate. And not just Russia, Egypt and France. Even the erstwhile double-dealing Saudis have had enough (though some rich Saudis and Gulf individuals may still be funding the beheaders in IS). Nevertheless, the UN Security Council could unite for a rare new resolution to take on the warrior state. IS has no formal allies left. It is being beaten on the ground and in the air though not in cyberspace.
The dream of a Jihadist caliphate will not die, but the collapse of IS will mean the end of the belief that Allah has backed this caliphate as He did the ones immediately after Muhammad. The psychopathic virus of murderous Jihadism will morph into another perhaps more dangerous manifestation just as parts of al-Qaeda became Islamic State. There was a case for recognising the Islamic state and dealing with it as the West did with the aggressive Ottoman caliphate. What the West considered crazy Islamist nutjobs could be persuaded to emigrate but not come back. Having your main enemies cooped up in one smallish place has advantages over worldwide threats. Both together are intolerable. IS must be destroyed and it is now time for the Royal Air Force to join the Russian, French and American air forces and special forces, plus the brave Kurds, and even the revived Syrian army, in wiping out the religious cancer that is devouring the Middle East. And better to have Arab Muslim troops involved maybe from Jordan or even Saudi Arabia. The crisis in the region is mainly about toxic Islam, not least the chasm between Sunni and Shia. Let Muslims lead in the reforming solutions to IS both in Syria and Iraq ─ and in mosques in Britain and France.
It is the beginning of the end for IS, but the endgame is likely to be medieval, shocking and may be prolonged.
Professor Paul Moorcraft, currently the Director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, London, has long worked at the heart of the British security establishment and has operated as a war correspondent in over thirty conflict zones since Afghanistan in the 1980s, often alongside frontline Jihadists. Arguably no-one is better qualified to write on this subject and his knowledge coupled with forthright views cannot be ignored.

Further Reading

The Jihadist Threat
(Hardback - 174 pages)
ISBN: 9781473856790

by Paul Moorcraft
Only £19.99

This timely and controversial book examines the international and domestic threats to the West from Jihadism. It joins the dots in the Middle East, Asia and Africa and explains what it means for the home front, mainly Britain but also continental Europe and the USA. More Brits are trying to join the Islamic State than the reserve forces. Why? It puts the whole complex jigsaw together without pulling any punches.
After briefly tracing the origins of Jihadism from the time of the Prophet, The Jihadist Threat analyses the fall-out…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

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A complete list of titles by Paul Moorcraft for Pen and Sword Books can be found here.

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