The Challenge of ISIS and the Rise of New Middle East

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The capture of Mosul by the radical Islamist group ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has once again brought to the fore the important question of how the dynamics of security relations and regional politics have been changing in the Middle East in the post 9/11 era. Indeed, studies on the impact of 9/11 on the Middle East abound. Similarly, analysts have been trying to make sense of the possible repercussions of the so-called Arab Spring process on regional politics in different platforms and in terms of different dimensions. This short essay will make a modest attempt to understand the evolving dynamics of regional politics in the Middle East against the background of such formative events as mentioned above, and the spectacular rise of radical Islamic groups across the region.

The first observation to make in this regard is that the interstate boundaries in the region no longer exist as their designers had planned nearly one hundred years ago. Today’s Iraq and Syria are no longer the Iraq and Syria of our fathers. Following the failure of pan-Arabist and secular authoritarian regimes to help create strong nation-states in their territories in the post-colonial era, groundbreaking developments in the last decade have further shaken the foundations of these states profoundly. The regional society in the Middle East that included Iraq and Syria as independent and sovereign units seems to have evaporated. Though these states are still UN members, the rise of new actors has put into question their de-jure and de-facto existence and integrity. Unless the socio-political dynamics are dealt with effectively, other states in the region might follow suit. The most likely candidates are Lebanon, Jordan and many small emirates in the Gulf region


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