The ISIS crisis and the broken politics of the Arab World

A framework for understanding Radical Islamism

Authored by: Nader Hashemi

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763


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When future historians of the Middle East look back on the early twenty-first century, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will be discussed as a key turning point in the politics of the region. 1 As a result of the expansion of ISIS in 2014, the boundary between Iraq and Syria has effectively dissolved. The one-hundred-year-old colonial borders of the Middle East have not faced such a radical restructuring since Gamal Abdel Nasser attempted to unify Egypt and Syria (1958–61), and Saddam Hussein’s attempt at annexing Kuwait (1990). 2 While these prior attempts to re-fashion borders were short-lived, the phenomenon of the Islamic State will not disappear as quickly. In part, this is because the forces that have produced ISIS are driven not from above, as in the aforementioned cases, but are a result of social conditions that have emerged from below and which have been brewing in the region for some time. 3 Thus, ISIS can be understood as a product of these dire social conditions which has produced a broken politics for the Middle East.

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