The organization called Daesh appeared on the Middle Eastern stage in the middle of 2014, although it was founded 14 years earlier as the Iraqi arm of Al Qaeda. The world paid the organization scant attention until it suddenly began to take over wide areas of northwestern Iraq and eastern Syria with record speed. At first, international attention focused mainly on the videos in which the organization's soldiers were seen butchering foreign journalists.and even now, the world considers this group of Jihadists a terrorist organization, despite the fact that in June 2014, that organization declared itself a state, "Islamic State" and began calling its leader a Caliph.
Politicians, media personalities, academicians and experts have a visceral and psychological opposition to recognizing this organization as a state, even though the area it controls as of today is 15 times the size of Israel. The term "state" is understood to refer to something normal, ordinary, legal and legitimate and no one in the Western world is ready to grant the Caliphate the stamp of approval given to a state. The BBC in Arabic calls it "the entity that calls itself Islamic State."
And another problem arises: Using the term "Islamic State" is de facto recognition of the group as representing the original and authentic Islam. This leads to a question of political correctness, because even if this recognition is only implied, it angers a good many Muslims, especially those living in the West, who do not identify with Daesh's activities and refuse to be classified as Muslims along with Islamic State. In order to avoid putting these Muslims in an uncomfortable position, the West refrains from referring to Islamic State by that name.
The reasons stated above keep the entire world from calling Islamic State by its full name. Those speaking in Hebrew use the acronym "Daesh", which stands for "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria". That translates to ISIS or ISIL in English ("Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Levant") both acronyms used to avoid calling the group by its real name.
Denial is of no use, however, and laundering a name will not change reality, because what looks like a state, sounds like a state and functions like a state – is a state, even if we dislike it intensely. Denying Islamic State's existence is like much of the Arab world's denial of Israel's existence for over 67 years and their use of the insulting name "The Zionist Entity" for the Jewish State.
I hereby call upon the world to open its eyes, admit the reality that has been forced on the Middle East and understand that Islamic State intends to stay and has no plans to evaporate. Islamic State is part of the Middle East reality and the world must relate to it as a state. In case anyone is wondering. let me state clearly that I have not turned into a public relations lackey of Caliph Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi. On the contrary, I call on the world to regard his state exactly as it did Nazi Germany, because that is the only way the world can overcome the psychological barrier that allows it to live in denial. It must wake up, look reality straight in the eye, prepare for war and destroy Islamic State. For as long as the world relates to that entity as an organization, gang, group, or something with unintelligible initials, there is a feeling that it can be overcome if the West bombs here and there, eliminates someone here and there – and there is no greater error than that kind of thinking.
Another danger that Islamic State poses is its amazing ability to export its ideas like wildfire. There are a good many people around the world who like the Jihadist idea represented by Islamic State. And no less terrible are the cruel methods of operation it employs, some of which have already taken place in the West.
Organizations in Libya, Sinai, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Yemen and Afghanistan have sworn their fealty to Islamic State and are using its name, thousands of volunteers join the organization's ranks every month in order to take part in the Jihad against anyone who does not accept Islamic State credo and activities.
Why is it a state?
A state is a political entity that is in control of territory, has governmental institutions and the ability to carry out its policies, enact laws and enforce them on the population living in that territory. It must be able to defend its lands and interests by means of armed forces, maintain an administrative and economic system that allows its citizens to lead their daily lives. All of these characteristics can be found in Islamic State.
From an administrative point of view, Islamic State has a leader who is head of a government that includes ministers of health, economics, oil, security, etc. It has a developed a many-branched economic structure with massive, stable sources of funds: oil from northern Iraq, taxes forced on the people it conquers, profits from slave markets, the kidnapping of foreigners which result in huge ransoms paid to free them, donations from Muslims the world over, sale of artifacts stolen from museums – and more.
Islamic State has minted a set of gold, silver and bronze coins, on which are engraved "Islamic State", "Caliphate in the Ways of Prophesy". There are not a few people, including those in the state, that write its name as "The State of the Caliphates". It is important to note that Islamic State has removed the words "Iraq and Syria" from its name. It sees itself as ruler of the entire world, erasing the borders set by colonialists. Islamist doctrine holds that Allah created a single world, and that no one has the right to carve it into states and countries. Allah gave the world Islamic Sharia, the heavenly and perfect legal system that is the most suitable for Mankind, and no human being has the right to enact other, man-made laws.
The extreme punctiliousness about the Caliphate demands an explanation. The state is headed by a Caliph, a direct and accurate expression of the state established by Islam's Prophet Muhammed and followed by Caliphs. The Caliphate was abolished by Attaturk in 1924, as were many other manifestations of Islamic tradition which he hoped to uproot. Islamic State sees as its mission reinstating the glory of seventh century Islam in the world - by renewing the Caliphate.
In addition, the title Caliph grants the leader of Islamic State authorization stemming from Islam itself, implying that all other monarchs, even Muslim rulers, are illegitimate, including the kings of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Bahrain. A Qu'ranic verse posits that "the kingdom belongs to Allah alone," so how can a mere mortal declare himself a king? Presidents, too, are not legitimate rulers in the eyes of Islamic State, because the idea of a presidency was taken from the West by Muslims who had lost their identity.
Islamic State has media outlets: "The Caliphate Station" on television, a monthly magazine called "Dabiq" published in English and Arabic and named for a town in northern Syria near Aleppo. On August 8, 1516, near Dabiq, the Ottomans under Selim the First won a decisive battle against the Mamluks which paved the way for them to control Damascus and the entire Middle East. Next month, on August 8, it will be 500 years since that victory and it is to be expected that the festivities with which the date will be commemorated will include Jihad operations.
A real and present fear is the possibility that scientists specializing in the fields of physics, chemistry and biology may join Islamic State and enable the manufacture of unconventional weapons based on their knowledge of these fields. Islamic State may also get control of stores of unconventional in Syria or convince others, now that the Syrian army is falling apart, to steal such weapons from Syrian arsenals.
The world must open its eyes, awaken and begin to plan the way it is going to have to deal with Islamic State, before that state deals with the world. Bombing from the air will not eliminate Islamic State, the only way that will work is boots on the ground – armies that will send Islamic State fighters where they belong. It is either them or us, and anyone who hopes that Iran will do the work for him will be bitterly disappointed: Despite the hatred and aversion that lies between the Sunni Islamic state and Shiite Iran, both wish to see Islam's hegemony over the entire globe. Iran will not do anything significant against Islamic State so as not to help the haughty and heretic nations of the West.
Islamic State is growing by leaps and bounds, more and more organizations are joining it and more and more people are adopting its ideas. This state did not exist a year and a half ago, but it has metamorphosed into the latest thing in international politics. It is a serious threat to Western civilization and if the West does not begin serious military action, the danger will turn into an existential one. The longer the West waits to respond, the harder, longer and dearer the war –and yes, it is going to be a real war – against Islamic State will be.
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated by Arutz Sheva Op-ed and Judaism Editor, Rochel Sylvetsky