News / Middle East

    With ISIL ‘Caliphate’ Declared, What’s Next?

    A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.
    A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.

    Iraqis aren’t alone in wondering if the Sunni Muslim insurgency led by the al-Qaida offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) can be stemmed. Al-Qaida, once the world’s leading terror organization, is being surpassed by its onetime, wayward affiliate and it is none too pleased, say analysts.

    In the winter, al-Qaida’s top leadership disowned ISIL and its mercurial leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – a slap down for refusing to obey orders and for his ambition to carve a borderless caliphate across the Levant taking in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and even Lebanon. And al-Qaida’s official affiliate in Syria joined Islamist and mainstream Syrian rebels in battling ISIL and pushing its fighters out of some key northern Syrian border towns and the city of Aleppo.

    On Sunday, in an audio recording posted online, ISIL declared its chief “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere” – another affront to al-Qaida, which claims that al-Baghdadi swore allegiance it its overall leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor.

    According to ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani the group decided “to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims.”

    He added: “the words ‘Iraq’ and ‘the Levant’ have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents.”

    Caliphate refers to a system of government stretching across most of the Middle East and Turkey that ended nearly a century ago with the fall of the Ottomans.

    ISIL’s increased standing

    ISIL’s recent successes in Iraq have increased its standing among jihadi groups worldwide and more foreign fighters are choosing to join ISIL rather than al-Qaida, analysts say. “The two groups are now in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement,” according to Middle East scholar Aaron Zelin in a research paper published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank based in the U.S. capital.

    “ISIL holds an advantage, but the battle is not over yet,” Zelin said.

    The announcement of  the establishment of a caliphate by ISIL will likely exacerbate the feuding between the two terror groups and intensify their fierce competition to secure the loyalty of affiliates and offshoots across the Middle East and Africa. Jihadi religious scholars skirmished in the winter and spring with opposing rulings about al-Baghdadi’s refusal to obey instructions and withdraw ISIL to Iraq and allow al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to assume the lead role in Syria.

    Most of the leading jihadist ideologues such as Abu Qatada al-Filistini and Iyad Qunaybi sided with al-Qaida. Abu Qatada al-Filastini, a Jordanian whom Britain deported to Jordan this summer, criticized al-Baghdadi for being power hungry.

    Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi - according to the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Research Institute the most senior jihadist ideologue - bewailed the al-Qaida disputes in Syria but condemned al-Baghdadi.

    Baghdadi on the rise

    But the ISIL leaders have attracted the backing of his fair share of militant theologians in the continuing struggle for ideological supremacy. Another Jordanian sheikh, Omar Mahdi Zidan, defended the ISIL leader, arguing the mujahedeen (warriors) are entitled to exercise their own judgment and choose which commanders they want to follow.

    And in shake-up of the global jihadi order, al-Baghdadi has secured the backing of some al-Qaida affiliates and other jihadist groups.

    The Sinai-based Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis, which claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of a tourist bus earlier this year in Egypt that left three South Koreans dead and more than a dozen people injured, has been sympathetic to al-Baghdadi. “There are indications that it is allying itself with ISIS [aka ISIL]”, says Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.  

    He says ISIL “is positioning itself as an alternative to al-Qaida.”

    Ansar al-Sharia groups in the North Africa’s Tunisia and Libya have posted pro-ISIL propaganda online. And jihadists in Gaza are siding with al-Baghdadi.

    Huge threat to al-Qaida

    Sunday’s declaration of a caliphate by ISIL “poses a huge threat to al Qaida and its long-time position of leadership of the international jihadist cause,” says Charles Lister, a visiting fellow with the Brookings Doha Center.

    “Put simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared war on al-Qaida. While it is now inevitable that members and prominent supporters of al-Qaida and its affiliates will rapidly move to denounce Baghdadi and this announcement, it is the long-term implications that may prove more significant,” says Lister.

    For Lister and other analysts Sunday’s announcement demonstrates that al-Baghdadi has no intention of caving in to al-Qaida, and means to pursue a rivalry that they say represents its biggest challenge since U.S. Special Forces killed bin Laden.

    Lister adds: “Taken globally, the younger generation of the jihadist community is becoming more and more supportive of ISIL, largely out of fealty to its slick and proven capacity for attaining rapid results through brutality. We will very likely find ourselves in a dualistic position of having two competing international jihadist representatives – al-Qaida, with a now more locally-focused and gradual approach to success; and the Islamic State, with a hunger for rapid results and total hostility for competition.”

    But some analysts say the declaration also risks splitting the Sunni coalition ISIL has managed to pull together for an insurgency that in the last two weeks has swept northern and western Iraq.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 01, 2014 7:38 AM
    Oh the good times are yet ahead of us. First the Sunnis have to bludgeon the Shias, take their lands, declare their ISIL, and then......and then........start the jihad amongst themselves. That's right. Once the Sunni nations win, then the other Sunni sects will compete for power, so they will continue to bludgeon their own brother Sunni Muslims. All in the glorious name of Allah! Praise Allah for giving these evil, blood hungry, child raping, murderers a reason to exist!

    I guess America will be blamed for this too. Don't tell anyone, but for all you America haters, the Sunnis want EVERYONE DEAD...............DEAD! Except for those who are blood (not converted) Sunni Muslims of their own sect! That's right, ONLY BLOOD BORN SUNNIS ARE ALLOWED TO EXIST!!!!!!!!!! NOT INFIDELS!!!!!! NOT CONVERTS!!!!! So for all you converts, you will only be servants of the blood Muslims, until the forth generation of your family, which has to have obtained full Sunni recognition of all your family members into Islam, all 4 generations and all branches of your generations into Islam. You converts should have understood this first (suckers!). Converts are spared until all the infidels are exterminated. Know the facts.

    by: Hal Kenoz
    July 01, 2014 3:04 AM
    Most of the members of ISIL / ISIS are Europeans as I read recently ..Well paid mercenaries most likely from Qatar which. I can't digest that Europe / USA can do nothing. Cutting member salaries will dry these organizations.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 01, 2014 7:52 AM
    Has anyone noticed that unless the US takes action, then no one in Europe will have the guts to do anything? It isn't that the US doesn't care to do anything, it's just that no matter what we do, EVERYONE WILL HATE US FOR IT!!!!! A natural disaster hits a country, the US are the first to help with relief, ask for nothing in return, and the people resume to US bashing once their country is back on it's feet. We don't make any sense as a nation. Since we are a supposed democracy, which we aren't (Federal Repurlic), then we should let EVERY NATION in the world vote as to whether or not they will want our help or assistance for any reason. Then we can scale our military and world help organizations to fit the world's opinion of us. For Iraq, if we help them, they hate us. If we don't help them, they hate us. I took Economy 101 in college, I would think a wise person would choose the cheapest between the 2 options. Think about it. All of Europe hated Bush for taking action. Now that Obama (secret Sunni) isn't taking action, now Europe hates him. Make up your minds Europe!!!! How about Europe take action, then US follows? We just need to stay the heck out of Muslim affairs! Let Muslim nations handle Muslim problems so that the world can hopefully and finally see what that religion is all about.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    June 29, 2014 9:40 PM
    I assure to everybody that ISIl are punch of coward . It is how terrorist organization especially Muslim extremist conduct its business. once they saw that people are weak they took advantage of the weak by killing and raping woman. They do understand the language of power. once Iraq and Syria get strong and confronted them they will run and acted like a woman then we saw in their website and those they supported them a claim that babe were killed . They are disgraceful human being motivated by hatred ,ignorance and barbaric act .They should be eliminated and those they supported them
    In Response

    by: Keter from: Kenya
    July 01, 2014 8:26 AM
    who went to iraq first and distabilze it when it was stable under al tikrit himself? its the US, they should go back there and cool the fire,,,,am pretty sure Iraq wont be in a mess as it is now were it that al tikrit was left alone to rule over iraq....
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 01, 2014 8:16 AM
    Let's get this right, Ali Baba. First, you are not from NY! Second, you are not in the USA! Third, LEARN ENGLISH!!!!!!!!! What is a punch of coward? Can you mix it with Captain Morgan spiced rum? What is ISII? Israeli Sardines of Ireland and Idaho? Ask your 4th grade teacher to give you a hand the next time you wish to comment about anything.

    by: Anonymous
    June 29, 2014 9:14 PM
    This is the Lord solution for enemy of Christ to fight themselves to death. It is war declare for enemies against enemies.

    by: Obangala from: Kenya
    June 29, 2014 7:49 PM
    what's next....?? - Hussein Obama surrenders to ISIL...

    by: mohsen samii from: portugal
    June 29, 2014 4:38 PM
    Don´t be fooled when you read that there are splits between these terrorist groups as ALL of them belong to one entity - the West.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora