Almost the state: what are the politics and Economics of Islamic militants

Almost the state: what are the politics and Economics of Islamic militants


The power of the former prisoner of war

A little over a year ago, June 29 2014, the two-millionth city of Mosul, the largest city in Northern Iraq, was taken by the rebel army under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a former emissary “al-Qaeda” (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization) in one of the small Iraqi cities and former prisoner of the American camps for prisoners of war. The leader of radical Islamists-Salafis, called the “Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), on the same day proclaimed Islamic Caliphate.

Russia’s Supreme court banned the “Islamic state” in late December 2014 he declared it a terrorist organization. This organization to the present time controls territory with total area of 100 thousand square km, which is comparable to half the territory of Belarus. Before the war this area had a population of approximately 8 million people.

“ISIS is not just a terrorist organization, stresses in a conversation with a specialist on the Middle East from the University of California at Berkeley Peter Bart. — Its hard to describe but I would call it a movement for self-determination, which seeks the possibility of establishing a Sunni state in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq”.

This movement, according to many specialists, has a number of attributes of a proper state. The Montevideo Convention of 1933 on rights and duties of States, said that for the recognition of a state territory must have a minimum of permanent population, defined territory, government and capacity to enter into relations with other countries.

The Islamic state has all the attributes, including the ability to establish relations, only these relations: war, discusses serving in Iraq and Central Asia, the U.S. counterintelligence JI And Maccollo. In this sense, “Islamic state” can be compared with the regime of Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996-2001 regime or Hamas, who took power in the Gaza Strip in 2006.

Political structure

The authority’s assumption of al-Baghdadi, the absolute — he is the Caliph and Amir al-muminin (commander of the faithful), combining the functions of political, military and religious leader playing the role of the Supreme arbitrator on all questions of the internal structure of the constructed society. The Islamic state has formed a centralized system of control over the territories they occupied, which performs specific functions of public administration.

Having built a strong repressive system of religious and criminal police, associates of al-Baghdadi has created a network of Shariah institutions, established the system of primary education and the judiciary. In addition, the IG has so-called “Islamic services” is engaged in the distribution of humanitarian assistance, the organization of the work of bakeries, factories, water and electricity, housing and communal services.

For each of the separate functions responsible management (sofa), says in a conversation with the researcher with the American middle East forum Ayman Jawad al-Tamimi. “They have developed in a coherent system [of public administration] since the proclamation of the Caliphate. Before this administration existed at the local level,” he says.

Areas in which there are the Islamists, were originally divided into 16 provinces (wilayatul), in Syria their borders largely coincided with the already existing division into provinces. Part wilayatul exist only nominally, since the IG is not on them direct control. However, “ISIS controls half the country”, admits in a conversation with a former functionary of the government of Bashar al-Assad. In each of wilayatul has its Governor, under him there are local branches of the Central couches.

Although the area controlled by the militants, left hundreds of thousands of people, under their authority are major Syria (raqqa, Palmyra, al-Bab) and Iraq (Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi) of the city. According to a former member of the Syrian government, it is impossible to say that all those living in the lands of Islamic state support this mode, the problem is that from Damascus, those who disagree with the IG people offer nothing. “There are people who do not support ISIS, but they disagree and to return to the situation in 2010 (i.e. before the start of the uprising against the Assad regime),” he says .

Religion as the basis

In the “Islamic state” everything is subordinated to religion, as the raison d’être of the Caliphate, as it is seen by the followers of al-Baghdadi, is Dawa, the Islamic call that is converting to Islam all unbelievers. Penetrating into new territory, their first task is militants begin preaching work, distributing pamphlets, arranging religious ceremonies and competitions of reciters of the Quran. In addition, they immediately founded the Dawa centres and religious educational centres, the so-called Institutions of Sharia. In addition, the centers Dawa won popular population and otherwise — in the absence of a Central authority everyone could complain to them on what happened with him an injustice.

In parallel with the official judicial authorities or otherwise continued their activities, the militants and activists of the IG in the summer—autumn of 2013 we created our own law — Sharia, developing a network of Islamic courts.

In 2014, ISIS had lost ground in the provinces of Idlib, Hama, Deir ez-Zor and Latakia (where now is situated the Russian air base), significantly gaining in raqqa, al-hasakeh and Aleppo. “The redrawing of positions should not be seen as a significant defeat for ISIS, and how the change in focus strategies for control of extended territory and major strongholds,” says al-Tamimi.

Concentrating his power, IG first got involved in the “correction of manners” in February 2014 in manbij the rebels have mixed classes of boys and girls, in March in al Bab — the work shops during the prayer time in April entered in Islam, the prescribed punishment (Hudud), including the amputation of hands for theft, and crucifixion for apostasy, in June imposed a ban on the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

For “propagating virtue and preventing Vice” is designed to follow the special religious police “al-Hisba” carrying out regular patrols of the largest urban centres. Complete penal code, based on the norms of the Qur’an, the IG published in December 2014. In January 2015 began the first public executions of suspected homosexuality, in February with the destruction of the library and the Museum of the city of Mosul in Iraq launched a campaign to eradicate “pagan” cultural values, is ongoing.

According to the American researchers, Charles Caris and Samuel Reynolds, education is another key element of the construction of the IG its system of governance. “Children born in ar Raqqah ten years ago, I do not remember the former Syria, to them home — not Syria and “Islamic state”, — says a former member of the Syrian government. In Syria, as before in Iraq, the entire educational system is subordinated to religion. After the arrival of the IG to the power of kindergartens, schools and universities were closed and teachers sent for training to the divisions of Diwan al-talimi (the Department or the Department of education).

Last year The British Telegraph described how schools in the Iraqi city of Mosul under the control of the IG were prohibited music, the theory of evolution, canceled the teaching of national history and literature — as a true Islamic state does not recognize national boundaries. From exact Sciences were taught only what is not contrary to religious teaching.

Economic independence

The economy of the territories under the control of the IG is in their classic film, quasi-public education — the budget consists of income from smuggling, racketeering, confiscations and expropriations, as well as earnings from remaining from before the war industries, in the case of the Islamists in Syria — oil.

In addition, the self-sufficiency of IG is supported by a generous inflow of foreign currency from supporters of radical Islam from the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, where an official acknowledged the fundamentalist Sunni version of Islam — Wahhabism. In the initial stages of the existence of the group al-Baghdadi, the flow of money from the region played a significant role in the formation of the IG, says Bart.

But as noted a year ago, Plotkin, Boghardt, although income from the Saudi donors and could be considered the greatest in significance, the injections, the importance of these revenues disappeared due to independent funding sources of Islamists. Only with the collection of taxes from the population of ISIS as of June 2014 received up to $8 million per month, a significant source of income was the racketeering, trafficking in expropriated and confiscated “pagan” art, the seizure of assets belonging to the Syrian and Iraqi States, — a RAID on the office of the Central Bank of Iraq in Mosul in June last year brought the movement of tens of millions of dollars.

According to the calculations al-Tamimi, who worked with got in his disposal of financial instruments financial sofa ISIS from the province of Deir ez-Zor in December 2014 — January 2015: 44,7% of all income came from forfeiture, the share of tax revenues accounted for 23.7%, income from sale of electricity of 3.9%. Another major source of income is the smuggling of oil and natural gas — accounting for 27.7% of revenues. The total income of the IG in this petroleum province amounted to $8,438 thousand

As of November 2014, under the authority of the IG worked 350 oil wells in Iraq, the group was controlled 60% of all Syrian oil fields, until March of this year she was retained and the largest Iraqi oil refinery in Baiji. Fuel was in Jordan, Kurdistan and Turkey — with the country controlled by Islamists linked area 450 illegal pipelines.

Expert Bruckengasse branch of the Institute in Doha Louay al-Khatib came to the conclusion that the IG at the peak of oil prices at $100 a barrel was selling raw materials at a price of $25-60 per barrel. Estimated Boghardt fellow Matthew Levitt, who spoke at the hearings in the house of representatives of the U.S. Congress in November 2014, to September of last year the group received income of up to $3 million per day when the total value of controlled assets of $1.3 to 2 billion did the Caliphate “the most well-supported terrorist group in the world”, claimed the expert. On the basis of available data al-Tamimi urged to consider that the real aggregate income of the IG is 5-10% of the named Levitt amount.

The stability of the system

A constant flow of oil dollars allows a relatively effective social policy: the establishment of the IG not only massively give humanitarian aid (especially in newly captured areas), but also set a low price for food in those territories, which he achieved stable control. “In Raqqah, ISIS has become a major supplier of wheat, oil and cash, taking control of commodity flows going through the city, and started our own production of bread and gasoline”, — give examples of Caris and Reynolds.

Al-Tamimi on the basis of this concludes that the mode of the IG can be recognized sustainable: in Syrian areas under its control the quality of life has deteriorated dramatically, although for Iraq, this statement is not quite true. Bart believes that the preservation of the Caliphate itself is the story of this civil war: Sunni Eastern Syria is not willing to obey Damascus, as well as Western Iraq it will be difficult to subdue the Baghdad government, which forms a Shiite majority. Another factor stability of the Caliphate, according to al-Tamimi, is a tough security apparatus.

Bart finds a social and military support for ISIS in four main groups: religious inspired supporters, former officials of the Iraqi BA’ath party and military officers of Saddam Hussein, the volunteer fighters from abroad, as well as in Sunni communities and tribes who live within its territories.

The number of rebels opposing the Assad regime, is estimated in 120 thousand people, noticed after the beginning of the Russian campaign in Syria, a political scientist and expert on the Syrian conflict Anatoly Nesmiyan. In his words, to influence the course of hostilities, you need to hit not just dozens, but thousands of goals, because “action is not the army, Central supply does not exist, and therefore no large warehouses, bases, command posts, the destruction of which might seriously complicate the life of the enemy on a fairly large area”. So far, the coalition led by the US for 420 days own air operations against ISIS has caused, according to calculations of independent civil project Airwars, more than 7 thousand strikes in Iraq and Syria. Of them in Syria — more 2 thousand Is an order of magnitude more than had the Russian aircraft.

According to the American non-governmental organizations in the field of security Soufan group, the total number of IG fighting for foreigners — about 20 thousand people. Most in the army of al-Baghdadi Tunisians, about 5 thousand people, followed by the Saudis (2,27 million), Jordan (2 million) and immigrants from Russia, primarily Chechens (1.7 thousand).

Initially the influx of foreigners caused an explosion of discontent of the local population, say Caris and Reynolds, but because the presence of the families of foreign fighters in raqqa and other towns began to be perceived normally, experts believe that sooner or later they are integrated. “This sits well with the vision of a global Caliphate, which was intended to erase the existing cultural and ethnic boundaries”, — concluded us researchers.