Friday, November 20, 2015

The goal of ISIS now

The major goal of ISIS in the medium term is to subvert Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud.  That is the belief here, and it may seem far fetched.  ISIS claims to be the leader of a global Islamic caliphate, something they are not remotely close to being or achieving.  Saudi Arabia would be part of the path to their goal.

The actions of ISIS in Syria and Iraq are meant to establish their base.  The actions of ISIS in Paris, Lebanon, Egypt, and other places are meant to terrorize those who are opposing them and to get the publicity for doing so.

Saudi Arabia may be especially vulnerable to ISIS due to the explicit or implicit agreement made there in the early 1980's between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi Islam sect that dominates the country.  At that time the House of Saud was becoming incredibly wealthy due to the huge spike in worldwide oil prices over the late '70's and into the '80's.  At the same time the House of Saud had just watched the fall of the Shah of Iran and the establishment of an Islamic Republic, a Shiite one, a rigid theocracy that was a natural adversary to them.  Additionally there had begun to be some unrest within Saudi Arabia that was a concern to the ruling family.  The deal was that the House of Saud would share its immense wealth with the Wahhabi's in a major way to finance its mosques, its schools, and its efforts to spread their view of strict view of Islam widely, a view committed to a theocratic society, Shariah law, the subjugation of women, and seeing the Shiite's as apostates.  In return, the Wahhabi's would let the House of Saud rule and not focus their attention on them and their actions or western behavior.

Here we are today with widespread social media, a Saudi Arabia that shares its wealth with their citizens but citizens who must mostly now know how the House of Saud behaves in the modern world beyond their borders and the lifestyles of extreme wealth that they lead in their country and elsewhere.  If the actions of ISIS that attract headlines around the world are attractive to some within the Wahhabi Kingdom, that is potentially powerful.  The fact that, with the captured oil and wealth that they have accumulated, ISIS has built a formidable propaganda machine of its own is not trivial.

Saudi Arabia is the next huge steppingstone for ISIS.  Terrorist attacks against the West do not advance their goal of an Islamic caliphate unless they reverberate back into results for their bigger goal.  One would like to think that their goal is impossible if in the Middle East they are referred to as Daesh, which is now widely known and which is more or less an expletive that relates to their name in Arabic.  Certainly Daesh has the world's attention now, which one could guess has been their near term goal, now achieved.

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