BLOG 255 June 1, 2015
As the song says, “June is busting out all over” and it sure is in the Middle East! Before we take another look at the future of ISIS (the Islamic State), a couple of recent decisions in Egypt deserve our attention. While this story has gone almost unreported in America, an Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Morsi to death. The deposed president of Egypt as well as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first freely elected president in the long history of Egypt now faces execution. Should this sentence be carried out, Morsi could become a martyr to Egyptian Muslims. Of course, the death sentence must be approved by the grand Mufti, the ultimate Sunni religious authority in Egypt. In addition, such convictions will be appealed through the court system. At the least, Morsi’s death sentence is certain evidence that Sisi’s government continues to clean house and not back away from their repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On the brighter side, American citizen Mohamed Soltan was finally released from and Egyptian jail. Charged with supporting an Islamist protest, he spent two years denying the charges and participating in a hunger strike. His life imprisonment sentence was protested by Human Rights groups and President Obama. President al-Sisi released him and Soltan left the country. Because of solitary confinement and the hunger strike, his health is dire.
Back to ISIS. The recent capture of Ramadi and Palmyra has fired new enthusiasm for the Islamic State in the Muslim world. However, should ISIS prevail, can they endure and survive? The evidence of history suggests not.
The fiery intial success of such groups usually falls before internal rivalries, a quarantine imposed by other governments, or the direct intervention of outside powers such as the United States. Comparing the rise of ISIS to the emergence of the Soviet Union has some interesting similarities. While the Western powers supported the White Russians, the United States, France, and Britian were exhausted by World War I and of course, Germany was defeated. No outside forces descended on the Soviet Union. Today nearly 75% of the American public believe the war in Iraq was a mistake and no political candidate (except Lindsey Graham) is going to buckle that large a plebiscite. Some unanticipated event would be required to change the opinion of American intervention.
As long as ISIS remains at war with Iran and its puppets, it can expect to be funded by Sunni donors from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. However, internal factors and behind the scenes maneuvering can easily and quickly change. The recent history of the Arab world running from Egypt’s President Nasser forward reflects the difficulties of maintaining such connections.
Moreover, movements that operate on apocalyptic ideals and vision have historically burned themselves out. The wild end-time ideas that fuel today’s jihadists will disparate with time and the emotional force behind the war will disappear. In other words, what scares the West today, may evaporate tomorrow.
The West does not have the intelligence sources to know what struggles are currently going on inside ISIS. Past history suggests conflicts are already at work. Such a situation could be as destructive to ISIS as any other factor.
As was true of the Soviet Union, political evolution was necessary for future endurance. Can ISIS make such political adjustments and survive? Past history again suggests a “no” answer. The key to the future may lay inside ISIS.
Only time will tell.