Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
AI Tech Stocks State Going into the CRASH and Capitalising on the Metaverse - 25th Jan 22
Stock Market Relief Rally, Maybe? - 25th Jan 22
Why Gold’s Latest Rally Is Nothing to Get Excited About - 25th Jan 22
Gold Slides and Rebounds in 2022 - 25th Jan 22
Gold; a stellar picture - 25th Jan 22
CATHY WOOD ARK GARBAGE ARK Funds Heading for 90% STOCK CRASH! - 22nd Jan 22
Gold Is the Belle of the Ball. Will Its Dance Turn Bearish? - 22nd Jan 22
Best Neighborhoods to Buy Real Estate in San Diego - 22nd Jan 22
Stock Market January PANIC AI Tech Stocks Buying Opp - Trend Forecast 2022 - 21st Jan 21
How to Get Rich in the MetaVerse - 20th Jan 21
Should you Buy Payment Disruptor Stocks in 2022? - 20th Jan 21
2022 the Year of Smart devices, Electric Vehicles, and AI Startups - 20th Jan 21
Oil Markets More Animated by Geopolitics, Supply, and Demand - 20th Jan 21
WARNING - AI STOCK MARKET CRASH / BEAR SWITCH TRIGGERED! - 19th Jan 22
Fake It Till You Make It: Will Silver’s Motto Work on Gold? - 19th Jan 22
Crude Oil Smashing Stocks - 19th Jan 22
US Stagflation: The Global Risk of 2022 - 19th Jan 22
Stock Market Trend Forecast Early 2022 - Tech Growth Value Stocks Rotation - 18th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Setting Up For A 'Mini-Crash'? - 18th Jan 22
Mobile Sports Betting is on a rise: Here’s why - 18th Jan 22
Exponential AI Stocks Mega-trend - 17th Jan 22
THE NEXT BITCOIN - 17th Jan 22
Gold Price Predictions for 2022 - 17th Jan 22
How Do Debt Relief Services Work To Reduce The Amount You Owe? - 17th Jan 22
RIVIAN IPO Illustrates We are in the Mother of all Stock Market Bubbles - 16th Jan 22
All Market Eyes on Copper - 16th Jan 22
The US Dollar Had a Slip-Up, but Gold Turned a Blind Eye to It - 16th Jan 22
A Stock Market Top for the Ages - 16th Jan 22
FREETRADE - Stock Investing Platform, the Good, Bad and Ugly Review, Free Shares, Cancelled Orders - 15th Jan 22
WD 14tb My Book External Drive Unboxing, Testing and Benchmark Performance Amazon Buy Review - 15th Jan 22
Toyland Ferris Wheel Birthday Fun at Gulliver's Rother Valley UK Theme Park 2022 - 15th Jan 22
What You Should Know About a TailoredPay High Risk Merchant Account - 15th Jan 22
Best Metaverse Tech Stocks Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 14th Jan 22
Gold Price Lagging Inflation - 14th Jan 22
Get Your Startup Idea Up And Running With These 7 Tips - 14th Jan 22
What Happens When Your Flight Gets Cancelled in the UK? - 14th Jan 22

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Iraq: Examining the Professed Caliphate

Politics / Iraq War Jul 03, 2014 - 12:27 PM GMT

By: STRATFOR

Politics

Summary

The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has changed its name, but otherwise the militant group remains the same. Over the past weekend, a spokesman for the group announced that it had established a caliphate stretching from Diyala province, Iraq, to Aleppo, Syria. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. "Iraq" and "Levant" have been dropped from the organization's name to reflect its new status.


The trouble with the announcement is that the Islamic State does not have a caliphate and probably never will. No amount of new monikers will change the fact that geography, political ideology and religious, cultural and ethnic differences will prevent the emergence of a singular polity capable of ruling the greater Middle East. Transnational jihadist groups can exploit weakened autocratic states, but they cannot institutionalize their power enough to govern such a large expanse of land. If anything, the Islamic State's drive to unify the Middle East will actually create more conflicts than it will end as competing emirates vie for power in the new political environment.

Analysis

In recent years, the term "caliphate" has become somewhat warped; it has become more of a slogan for radical Islamist groups than an actual political objective. Even the Islamic State, which has made impressive territorial gains quickly, has only an emirate, which encompasses a far smaller geographic area than a caliphate. Establishing an emirate is not terribly remarkable. Similar groups have established emirates before: The Taliban ruled more than 90 percent of Afghanistan prior to 9/11, and al Qaeda franchise groups oversaw short-lived emirates in Yemen and Mali.

Still, the Islamic State's announcement is the first serious attempt at re-establishing the caliphate since the institution was abolished in 1924 by the Turkish republic, which replaced the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Over the past 90 years, there have been a few attempts to revive the caliphate, but none were particularly successful. Notable examples include Hizb al-Tahrir, which rejects democracy and nationalism, and more recently, al Qaeda.

The Caliphate: Origin and Evolution

Caliphate is derived from the Arabic word for "successor," a designation for those who would govern the Muslim community after the Prophet Mohammed died. However, Mohammed did not appoint his political successor; such a person was supposed to be elected by the community. Differences quickly emerged as to who should lead the Muslims subsequently. One camp preferred Mohammed's closest associate, Abu Bakr, while another camp favored Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, Ali. The group loyal to Abu Bakr would later be known as Sunni, and the group loyal to Ali would later be known as Shia.

But neither group knew exactly how it wanted a caliphate to function. Centuries later, the Shia developed a theory whereby the leadership of the community is not political, but rather divinely ordained. Even among the Sunnis, the caliphate was not a neatly outlined system of government. Their texts include only general principles for politics and governance; most practices were developed as the situation arose.

Abu Bakr eventually became the first successor, or "caliph," in 632. After roughly two years in office, he died of natural causes and another top lieutenant of Mohammed, Omar, took over. He was assassinated a decade later, but not before he appointed a council of six men to elect his replacement. They chose a man named Uthman, during whose tenure Islam saw its first significant, and violent, political disagreements, which ultimately led to Uthman's assassination.

Ali succeeded Uthman, but by that time the divisions within the caliphate had worsened beyond repair, leaving Ali to manage three separate civil wars. He, too, was later assassinated, bringing an end to what was known as the Rashidun caliphate and giving rise to the Umayyad caliphate.

As an institution, the caliphate would continue to be central to Islam for some time. But it declined well before the modern era. In Egypt, the Mamluks (1250-1517) kept the term caliphate more for religious symbolism than political necessity; their authority came from military power rather than from pledges of the faithful. Even the Ottoman Empire was more akin to a sultanate. It was not until 1517, when Sultan Selim I defeated the Mamluks, that the Ottoman sultans assumed the title of caliph. But even then, the caliphate lay dormant until Sultan Abdul-Hamid II unsuccessfully tried to revive it in 1876. When the caliphate was abolished in 1924, it had not really existed for centuries.

Truthfully, the caliphate was nearly always in flux. Even during the Abbasid era (749-1258), which is considered the golden age of the caliphate, autonomous and sometimes independent emirates and sultanates threatened the central government. The Abbasids overthrew the Ummayads, but the Ummayads maintained a rival caliphate on the Iberian Peninsula from 929 to 1031. At roughly the same time, another rival caliphate led by the Fatimid dynasty based itself in Cairo (909-1171).

In actuality, a single entity able to rule the entire Muslim world did not exist but for a brief period of early Islamic history. Geography constrained every regime. For a while, the caliphs in Medina, Kufa, Damascus, and Baghdad ruled large expanses through a sort of provincial system, but over time provincial rulers accrued power and in some cases independence. These rulers would sometimes ally with the caliph, but their loyalties would change as other power centers emerged.

Resurrecting the Caliphate

As a concept, the caliphate has evolved throughout history. The basis for Sunni jurisprudence was formed during Mohammed's rule and the Rashidun era. But interestingly, no caliphate ever referred to itself as the "Islamic State," though the Ottomans adorned honorific names like "The Exalted State." The notion of an Islamic state is actually a modern development, a response to the rise of the secular nation-state.

Of course, not all Muslims advocate the creation of an Islamic state any more than they reject the nation-state. And even those that do agree in principle may disagree on the methods used to create it. Radical groups like Hizb al-Tahrir and the Islamic State want to replace the nation-state with a caliphate. Moderates may take a more measured approach.

But all this points to a larger issue: The role of Islam in politics remains unsettled. Most Muslims have embraced such ideals as nationalism, republicanism and democracy. But radical groups are as relevant as ever, due in no small part to the rise of secular authoritarianism, Islamism, the failure of Arab/Muslim states to build viable political economies, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the U.S. wars in the Muslim world. These issues have helped militant Islamists drum up support, vying for a return to the past by restoring the caliphate.

Until now, calls for its restoration were disregarded as propaganda. In light of the Syrian civil war and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, such calls are arguably much more significant. The Islamic State knows it probably cannot create a caliphate, but simply saying as much benefits the group tactically: It stokes fear in the West and, considering it was announced during the first weekend of Ramadan, it appeals to Muslim sensibilities.

Plenty of Muslims, Islamists and jihadists reject the Islamic State. But for now, the group wants to use the caliphate to consolidate control over newly acquired territory. In the long run, the declaration of the caliphate also helps the group to resurrect the concept in political discourse, especially as the region is in such disarray. The Islamic State knows the declaration of a caliphate and a caliph is an issue that the Muslim world will have to address as it reconciles the role of Islam in politics.

"Iraq: Examining the Professed Caliphate is republished with permission of Stratfor."

This analysis was just a fraction of what our Members enjoy, Click Here to start your Free Membership Trial Today! "This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

© Copyright 2014 Stratfor. All rights reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis.

STRATFOR Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in