The flywheel of Jihad

Having its own territory is one of the key features of the state existence. It is possible without an army or ideology, but without land it is not. In Syria and Iraq in the first half of the ten years of the XXI century has been unprecedented situation: a radical element gained the ability to control large areas and to restore their order. There is an example of Taliban, up to 2001 they already had their own state, and the jihadists in the middle East – no. The main thing is that not every structure is able to create on the territory of something like public organization. The experience is required in administrative management, availability of development strategy, etc. It happened that the only structure on the Syrian-Iraqi territory, not connected with the authorities and with the experience, knowledge, resources, was ISIS. This was perhaps due to the unusual integration of ex-Baathists and jihadists for eight years. Radicals adopted the experience of Saddam’s professionals, and managers of the fallen regime, found a new ideology, since the former ideas after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the invasion of Americans lost its relevance. A new Outlook was necessary and in this circumstances the only reasonable option was to start Sunni Islam in its radical Wahhabi interpretation. This idea was used by ISIS to increase the resource base and increase the flow of recruits. Of course, all this could be obtained by the increase of the living space, the occupation of new lands. ISIS was seriously prepared and in the summer of 2014 conducted a famous raid on Mosul and forces tenfold inferior to the enemy, managed to knock out and to expel from the city the Iraqi army which carried out after training by the American instructors only the police functions, but unable to give a serious fight.

From that moment ISIS entered the active phase of state-building. It was characterized by the creation of the control hierarchy, critical for long-term control of the occupied territories. Therefore, along with military and police forces, the ISIS formed the nascent administrative institutions of the Caliphate. Theocratic regime was established a that denies secularism and the separation of powers. Controlled land was divided into administrative-territorial units – provinces. Arose Executive divans, which were actually the counterparts of the ministries.

At the end of June 2014, ISIS rebranded, leaving only the “Islamic state” and thereby showing that they are not a national project by the example of the Taliban, namely, the global Caliphate. Behind the decision was rational and pragmatic reasons. In the war with all its neighbors and other terrorist organizations ISIS never had possibilities for development of the occupied territories. Only their ruthless exploitation and accumulation of resources and subsequent expansion. Extensive way of development – the only possible one. Any created by jihadist plant, with which they would be able to go from primitive farming to the economy of a higher level, would be destroyed by aircraft or special forces opponents. The development of any kind when the initial resources are small, perhaps only with stability and relatively peaceful time. ISIS emerged from the ruins of the country after occupation and total terror, largely razed to the ground. Therefore, there is eliminated the large-scale mobilization. It only remains to exploit the occupied land, to reallocate the resources again and go to battle. This mechanism can not stop, and is forced to continuously fight. If you look at the structure of this quasi-state, it is possible to notice that among the divans there is no analogue of the Ministry of economic development or Ministry of heavy industries. Such agencies are in a permanent state of war, and appropriating the economy is not completely necessary. However, for effective expansion needed an ideology, not tied to one region – Iraq and the Levant, causing it to become global. The idea of building a worldwide Caliphate has attracted the attention of potential recruits from around the world. Bet on the fact that creating an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, the jihadists will then deal with the spread of the Caliphate in the countries of origin, worked flawlessly.

Thus, the leaders of ISIS managed in the course of social evolution to combine the two forms of governance – network and hierarchical, which enabled the proxy-state to exist so long and even expand.

The interdependence of these principles, coupled with the high degree of ideologization of the ISIS representatives, and a high threshold of acceptable damage (“we love death as you love life”) has made the organization extremely tenacious. It is, of course, something bigger and complex than just a terrorist structure. I would say that ISIS in its struggle managed to absorb both forms of organization management, which has improved its robustness – the insensitivity of the system to various deviations up to extremely high values.

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