by MURAT HAZINE, Turkey Agenda, July 9, 2014

The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is a new shadow that appeared while we were trying to differentiate between the “New Middle East” and the “Great Middle East” which is a result of the Republican tendencies of the US. Nobody has any information regarding which country the ISIS is shadow of. Also, it is unknown that ISIS which acts as an ideal troublemaker in Iraq and Syria today would be carrying out the same duties in any country it has potential members in. Nevertheless, it is necessary to make an evaluation over the structure, methods and the possible actions of this shadow. In that case, we need to initiate our efforts to understand from here: Which ISIS? What influenced trigger the changes experienced by this group that came to prominence with its different sides throughout the time? After the death of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, his followers had formed an alliance named the Islamic State of Iraq. This alliance was a union of Sunni groups such as Mujahideen Shura Council, Jaysh al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba and Jaish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura that all served a common purpose. And, the reason behind the break of relations between the Islamic State of Iraq and Sunni tribes was the formation of this alliance. This alliance first called on Sunni tribes to be committed to them and then, targeted the leaders and the important figures of the tribes that did not accept the invitation.

The start of the US support to Sunni tribes in the west of Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq falls into this time period. Furthermore, the use of the weapons provided by the US to Sunni tribes against Nouri al-Maliki’s administration is widespread belief in Iraq. There was a bloody war from 2006 to 2013 between the Iraqi branch of the al-Qaeda and this structure called “Revival Councils.” The US was able to weaken the revolts in al-Anbar province where half of the attacks against occupation forces were made, through supporting these councils. However, following the withdrawal of US forces, the al-Qaeda branch in Iraq which attained power with the civil war in Syria began to organize new attacks.

The rise of ISIS due to dispute between al-Nusra front and Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2013 and ISIS transferring the militant forces from Syria to Iraq have been the benchmark of the Iraq crisis. In the meantime, this process also made the two different faces of ISIS visible. ISIS which fought with groups that did not obey them and who referred to these groups as “Sahwa”, have formed a strategic alliance with the tribes it previously fought with in Iraq. ISIS which practiced harsh rules in the regions that it controlled in Syria did not choose to impose their own rules by sharing the management with other groups in Iraq. Practice of two different policies in Syria and Iraq is actually an indicator of a fine strategy possessed by ISIS and that it has a vision in Iraq for the future.

ISIS, whose administrators are all Iraqis, is aware of the fact that it doesn’t hold a future in Syria and aims to continue to hold its influence in a region near the Iraqi border at least by following an aggressive policy. However, they are following a compatible policy with other groups in Iraq with the aim of being permanent and becoming an influential part of the new system. It’s the result of this strategy that the bans practiced in Raqqa are not present in Mousul.

The impression of Elijah J. Magnier who did an interview for a Kuwaiti media organ, with Abu Baqr-al-Janabi from ISIS confirms the picture portrayed above. The cooperation of ISIS which has a rigid Salafi view in a way that no settlement can be made, with the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order which is a Sufi resistance movement is not easy to explain. On top of that, the Islamic Army of Iraq, which had a clear stance against ISIS to a degree that they filed a complaint to al-Qaida about them, now moves together with ISIS.

ISIS has two shadows different from each other in Iraq and Syria. The main question is this: How could ISIS be this much political and strategic? The strategic depth and political attitude of ISIS is directly related to re-foundation of intelligence spirit of Iraqi army that succeeded to manage the revolts during the period of Saddam Hussain, in the body of ISIS. Carefully looking at the leaders of ISIS, we can see this spirit clearly.

The real name of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is actually Ibrahim al-Badri and he is known as Abu Dua within the organization. Although it is not mentioned in the media, al-Badri was a cleric who worked with the intelligence units of Iraqi Army during the occupation and his connection in the Army was Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, whom he now manages ISIS with. Similar to al-Baghdadi, Abu Ayman was also imprisoned by the US after the occupation. Abu Ayman is also known to be a colonel in the Air Force of Iraqi Army during the time of Saddam Hussain. Again, another influential name in the organization, Abu Ahmad al-Alwani was also known to be a soldier that worked for Iraqi Army. Also, Haji Bakr whose actual name is Samir Abd Mouhammad al-Khleifawi was an officer in the Iraqi Army. As al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayman, he was also prisoned by the US following the occupation of Iraq.

ISIS which has a “jihadist” and “Salafi” face is actually being managed with a fine intelligence mindset. In other words, this movement which is thought to be formed by people who are “wild, terrorist, head-chopper, psychopath”, is under the control of names who knows how to act under different circumstances, how to carry out a war with a disorderly army, how the propaganda tools would be used and how the psychology could be turned into a weapon.

We are required to evaluate these two shadows as a whole while considering this fine intelligence mindset.

We have to accept the fact that ISIS has advanced to a power which Syrian opposition fears to fight with, that destroyed the Iraqi Army and is taking careful and strategic steps not to fight with the Syrian Army. It is obvious that we will need to spend more time and effort on the military, sociological, and political progress of this movement in the near future even we do not know if it will be long-term movement or not.

Because, we do not know if a new shadow of ISIS will form or not and even if it does; in which county this shadow will fall into.