In my last post, I treated ISIS as a phenomenon that serves imperial interests—the latest character in an ongoing tragedy of the opportunist use of jihadi players by hegemonic powers, which went into production in Afghanistan in 1979, and which has been on the road throughout the Middle East since, with the script frequently re-written as some members of the original cast and crew drop out, and new faces take on the challenge. One of the keys to its long run is the improvisational skill with which the producers adapt to the new talent that jumps on the well-financed and outfitted stage they have provided.
Thus, I have argued that ISIS, like other jihadi groups, has been effectively armed and nourished by American interventions in the region, and that its dramatic appearance and antics are of the If-they-didn’t-exist-we’d-have-had-to-invent-them genre—particularly, at this particular conjuncture, in regard to the grand plan for Syria. I am not, however, arguing that it was deliberately created by any particular country to do so. That’s not impossible, but I’ve seen no dispositive evidence of that. ISIS is just as likely, and no less perniciously, the product of the benign inadvertence of those who set and supplied the stage.
I do find it understandable, however, that many in the region, who doubt the possibility of coincidence—especially serial coincidences, especially serial coincidences that always end up promoting the urgent necessity for imperial powers to intervene in a particular group of Arab and Muslim countries for ostensibly non-imperialist reasons—will tend to favor notions that ISIS in Syria (and Iraq) is a deliberate creation of the foreign powers meddling in the region.
To get a glimpse of the kind of thinking that is prevalent in the region, and prevalent even among fellow jihadis, about ISIS, I strongly suggest that you look at the remarkable interview with Nabeel Naiem on Syria News below. (Bear with the rocky translation from Syria News.) I don’t endorse his theories about ISIS, or anything else he says, but if you’re interested in the dynamics of jihadism and jihadi thinking in the region, and of how even the most militant Islamists detest ISIS, you’re unlikely to find anything like it.