The "Islamic State," an Unidentified Terrorist Object

By Raufer, Xavier | The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, April 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The "Islamic State," an Unidentified Terrorist Object


Raufer, Xavier, The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs


Without any major conflicts but bordering on chaos, and always caught between two bursts of violence, the world today is what Carl Schmitt foresaw, with amazing prescience, back in 1938. This is what the jurist considered would inevitably happen: "A global war, largely asymmetrical, uncontrolled and subject to no legal limitation, in which a great neo-imperial power deploys its force not so much, nor only, against particular states, but against 'global partisans' (Kosmospartisanen) operating on a world scale with the means and objectives of civil war."1

The present author wishes to emphasise at the outset that all the facts mentioned in this study have been checked, can be verified and are available. The originality of the exercise lies perhaps in the astonishment it expresses and the questions it raises, which will hardly be found elsewhere with the media and politicians being hypnotised by throat-slitting and other iconoclastic performances to such a degree that they tend to forget all the rest.

Today, what we are seeing at work, thanks to massive media coverage, is an entity consisting of "global partisans," which we can call as we wish the "Islamic State" (hereafter IS), the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, or the Takfiri. The aim of this study is to show that, while day after day we are told of the horrors perpetrated by the entity, while we are threatened with thousands of bloodthirsty moujahidin invading Europe, and while we are given terrifying figures relating to its arsenal and the size of its "armies," nothing is ever said of the heart of the matter: what is the Islamic State? What is its nature? Its essence?

In early September Le Figaro was expressing concern: "One year of bombing has not weakened the Islamic State" and "Stalemated by Daesh, the Western powers are questioning their strategy." What then is this unshakeable IS that is taking on the whole world? And why are the Western powers wondering about their strategy instead of trying to understand what their now formidable enemy, whose very name was unknown to all but a very few experts three years ago, really is.

To try to clarify matters, let us compare IS to Hezbollah. Defining Hezbollah is easy: "A paramilitary entity, or Shiite militia, in Lebanon, with strong terrorist tendencies; equipped, trained and manipulated by the special forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran." There you have the main points in two lines. It is, however, impossible to define IS in the same way, for the simple reason that there is nothing naturally evident with it. That is what we shall try to establish.

First, there is a surprising fact that no one seems to have noticed:

Is IS a "terrorist group"? No. No terrorist group, past or present, has ever possessed more tanks than the French army. Furthermore, since IS started its nefarious operations in Iraq, the number of terrorist attacks there has diminished. And, in the field, IS successes have clearly been military, not terrorist.

Furthermore, IS operates in the Middle East, and if there is one hard and fast rule in the region, it is that no lasting terrorist entity can escape becoming the instrument of state terrorism. Such has been the rule for 50 years: Abou Nidal (Fatah, Revolutionary Council), Syria, then Libya; Ahmed Jibril (FPLP-General Command), Syria; Asala, Syria; and Hezbollah (Iran), are convincing examples.

Who then is the puppeteer pulling IS strings? During 2014 the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey suddenly changed the side they were supporting in the conflict between Iraq and Syria. They now support various regional offshoots of Al Qaeda: Jabhat al-Nosra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and "Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula;" the first are fighting the army of Bachar al-Assad, Teheran's ally, and Hezbollah. The latter are fighting the Houthis in Yemen, who are emanations of the Shia. And so all is clear, except the identity of those who are behind IS since the main Sunni actors in the region changed sides. …

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