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The Islamist Phoenix : The Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East

vendredi 17 février 2017, par Louis Padovani

The Islamist Phoenix is a political book written by Loretta Napoleoni in 2014. After an explanation of the creation of ISIS, the author explained what are their objectives and what is a possible future for the world. Indeed, as Napoleoni argued, her book “attempts to answer key questions about the nature and goals of the Islamic State and the Caliphate” (xxi, Introduction). After the attacks in Lebanon, in Paris and in Russia in November 2015, this book seems a key to understand the development of the international terrorism.

Why the author used the image of a phoenix to describe the power of the Islamic State today ? Since 1798 and the invasion of Egypt by the Napoleon and the French government, there are any examples of the domination and actions of Western countries in the Middle East : the establishment of the D’Arcy Concession (in order to explore, extract, refine and export oil) in Iran in 1901, the implication of the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1953 coup in Iran, the participation of the United States in the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, the Gulf War in 1990 and more recently the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. All of these actions leaded by Western countries and government participated to the destruction of the Middle East and the image of a “burned Middle East”. Consequently, nowadays, the Middle East is an ash created by the Western countries in the past decades. And, in this metaphor, the phoenix (the Islamic State) is arriving. For the members and the future members, “the Islamic State is spreading a powerful, in part positive, political message in the Muslim world : the return of the Caliphate, a new Golden Age of Islam” (xv, Introduction).

This is one of the main arguments of Napoleoni in her book. Indeed, she argued how this extreme right-wing Islam organization does not come from a vacuum but almost inevitably from the circumstances and the involvement of Western countries in the Middle East in the last century. Because “after decades of war and destruction at the hands of the local elite, backed by Western powers, Sunni Arabs and Muslims elite desperately want to believe that finally, from the ashes of a world long gone, a magnificent phoenix has risen” (72) ...

In her book, the author tried (and succeed) to explain the rise and the goal of the Islamic State. Her main goal is to tell the reader that ISIS in not only a terrorist organization like the Western leaders want to believe but a more serious threat with an ability to use "military prowess, media manipulation, social programs, and, above all, nation- building".

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