Faculty in the News In the News

December 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Abu-Rish Interviewed on Emergence of ISIS and Regional Ramifications

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Assistant Professor of History at Ohio University, was interviewed on the emergence of ISIS and regional ramifications in October by Epohi, a weekly newspaper produced in Greece.

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish

Abu-Rish is co-editor of Jadaliyya, where he published an English translation of the interview. Epohi primarily focuses on Greek politics with an emphasis on issues of interest to the Greek left. The interviewer, Adamos Zachariades, is head editor of the newspaper whose own research and writing interests center on the history of Cyprus and contemporary politics in Greece and Cyprus.

Adamos Zachariades: How do you explain the rise of ISIS in the Middle East?

Ziad Abu-Rish: There is still a lot about ISIS that we do not know, such as how their networks function both within a country and across countries. However, what is clear is that there are three sets of factors without which any account of the emergence of ISIS is incomplete. The first and most central of these are the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and in particular the concomitant destruction of the country. By “destruction of Iraq,” I do not simply mean the process of “regime change.” Rather, I mean the dismantling of the Iraqi state itself—most notably through the process of de-Ba‘thification—and the political, social, and humanitarian costs of that dismantling. In other words, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq were the condition of possibility for the rise of ISIS as we know it today. In addition, another important juncture was the policies and practices of US counter-insurgency, its attendant local alliance making, and the subsequent rise of Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister of Iraq. This second set of dynamics further entrenched the centralization of formal power in Iraq within a small clique, the deployment of sectarianism as a method of rule, and the rhetoric of a war on terror to buttress both. Finally, there is the zero-sum game approach of two sets of actors in the Syrian civil war. On the one hand, there was the Syrian regime and its brutal internal suppression of what was initially a legitimate uprising against dictatorship. On the other hand, there was the policy of regional powers—with the acquiesce of international powers—to deploy all available means to seek regime change in Syria, irrespective of the cost to the Syrian population or the Syrian state—most notably the short-sighted policies premised on sectarianizing and militarizing the uprising along with a laissez-faire flow of arms and personal into Syria.

Read Abu-Rish’s responses to these additional interview questions:

Why is the city of Kobane important for Turkey and what would be the impact of a possible fall?

How possible is an independent Kurdish state in the current conditions?

Israel seems to be isolated. What is the impact of the recent developments for Palestine?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *