- It was the first known blow by IS against the US.
- It was planned and filmed.
- It was broadcast on social media.
- It will further limit the ability of journalists to report on the horrors of the Middle East.
- A British man is thought to have committed the act.
- It followed multiple massacres of Iraqi soldiers and civilians.
- It followed US airstrikes on IS, which followed three years of US inaction in Syria.
- And it happened against a broader backdrop of a Middle East in flames and in danger of general collapse and/or all-out war.
IS exploded into the global consciousness in just the past couple of months, as it seized a huge chunk of the Middle East, including oil fields, US weaponry and that dam. But its roots go back to al-Qaeda in Iraq and Bin Laden's vision of a Muslim Caliphate stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the Middle East, North Africa and into Spain. IS wants to erase all modern borders between Muslim countries - many drawn by the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement during WW1 - and create a hardcore (Sunni) Muslim superstate, governed by Sharia (religious) law and with a huge chip on its shoulder towards the West, USA and Britain in particular. The complete destruction of Israel is also on the IS agenda.
Some believe that US policy post 9/11 was to engineer a Sunni Vs Shia civil war, getting both key Muslim ideologies to fight each other back to the Stone Age. We may be nearing that reality, but in a messier way than any analyst or strategist could have foreseen. What with Wikileaks, Snowden and the NSA revelations, Russia resurgent, Western hypocrisy exposed, the Arab Spring, Iran's nuclear weapons programme, Gaza, Syria, Europe's impotence, China's calm waiting, the collapse of the (grossly unfair and exploitative) global financial system and civil rights riots on the streets of America, the world is a huge mess. Where are the good guys? There are no good guys any more. The mask has slipped, the curtain is torn down forever.
And into the moral vacuum has stepped the Islamic State. They don't have our Western morals, of course. They have seventh century Sunni Islamic morals. But for the desperate, hate-filled Muslims of Syria, Iraq and Europe, who have seen their lands, wealth and people plundered by foreign powers and the West's client dictators, the IS moral compass is magnetic, powerful and, most worryingly, successful.
IS is approaching critical mass. If it succeeds in grabbing more territory in the Middle East, in completing a coup in a West-leaning dictatorship, or in launching a spectacular attack on the US or Europe, it will draw even more disillusioned, angry young Muslims to its ranks and deliver a tangible model to the millions of Muslims who know only lives of grinding poverty in lands of plenty.
The Islamic State, described as a cancer by President Obama, must be stopped, before it imposes its insanity across Muslim lands and, eventually, the world. If it requires Western boots on the ground to achieve the destruction of IS, let's leave faith and prayers and all thoughts of crusade behind and fight for liberty, equality and humanity. Britain and France must take responsibility for drafting the borders in the Middle East, the cause of much of the strife, so Europe should take the lead in attacking IS. By helping to fix past wrongs we in the West must learn something about ourselves and our role in this horrible reality. The European Union was invented to deal with history and avoid its repetition. Here we go again...
The IS Caliphate was declared on 29 June, 2014. At the time of writing, it still stands.
Learn more about IS here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant#Goals