Syria dispatch : from band of brothers to princes of war


  • Compte rendu du livre sur l’Etat Islmaique du fameux Abdel Bari Atwan dont @gonzo nous synthétise quasi quotidiennement la pensée. On comprend à le lire ce qui vous rapproche...

    Book Review : Islamic State : The Digital Caliphate by Abdel Bari Atwan | LSE Review of Books

    Much of Atwan’s analysis focuses on the role that digital technology has played in the rise of Islamic State, and this is one of the most fascinating aspects of his book. From their prolific use of dark net, hacking and international cyber-attacks to the development of jihadist computer games and Islamist match-making apps, ISIS members have proven themselves to be, in Atwan’s words, “masters of the digital universe.”

    Atwan does an admirable job of explaining the seeming paradox by which Islamic State exploits 21st century technology and cultural trends in pursuit of a society grounded in the mores of the Middle Ages. This is especially true of his account of Islamic State’s sophisticated propaganda wing, which not only keeps existing followers in the Middle East ‘on message’ but enables ISIS to attract, groom and direct new members across the globe. The group has been frighteningly successful in this regard; some 30,000 foreigners have already joined its ranks and, Atwan notes, “hundreds of new recruits turn up every day across the territories under Islamic State control.”
    Islamic_State_(IS)_insurgents,_Anbar_Province,_IraqImage credit: Islamic State group in Anbar, Iraq (Wikipedia Public Domain)

    This points to another strength of the book, namely, its rich description of the manner in which ISIS territories are actually governed. Drawing on sources within Islamic State itself, Atwan provides the reader with vivid insights into the institutional structures of the fledgling caliphate and the means by which its leaders intend to build and consolidate state capacity. Uniformed police, efficient sharia courts, minted currency, health services, basic infrastructure, education (except in subjects such as evolutionary biology and philosophy) — ISIS is providing all of these, and doing so has helped it to win significant support from populations long exposed to war, corruption and chaos. The fact that Islamic State deliberately fosters such disorder, however, has been buried under the piles of cash generated by its capture and exploitation of key oilfields and refineries.

    The only real weaknesses of Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate are the bias and hyperbole its author tends to display when discussing US foreign policy, Israel, or the West’s treatment of its Muslim citizens. When Atwan tosses about the term “conspiracy” in the context of falling oil prices, for example, or talks of multinational companies “prowling around” Iraq in search of “tantalising prey,” it becomes difficult to take his argument completely seriously.