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Islamic State (IS)

Home > Conflict with ISIS > Islamic State

At the beginning of Ramadan (2014) the Sunni rebel group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant or ISIL (ISIS) renamed itself the Islamic State and announced the establishment of the Caliphate. The current borders of the "Islamic Caliphate" run east to west from Diyala in eastern Iraq to Aleppo in Syria.

Identity Crisis (or What's in a Name?)

There are numerous names for the Islamic State (IS). As time has gone on, the Islamic State has changed its name a few times. To add to the confusion different governments and members of the media (TV, newspaper, online, etc.) all use different names to include Islamic State, ISIL, and ISIS. Many Arab nations use the term 'Daesh'. 1.

Allegiance to the Islamic State

ISIS has directed islamists everywhere to pledge their support and allegiance to the Islamic State. This declaration of the caliphate along with the guidance for other fighters in Iraq to support the caliphate may cause some difficulties for ISIS.

Governance and Administration of the Islamic State

According to ISIS, the administrative governance of the Islamic State is taking shape with the appointment of a judiiciary, provincial governors, and revenue services.


A "Caliph" has been designated to lead this new caliphate. The name of the caliph is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of ISIS. He is described as a descendant from the family of the Prophet. This puts Baghdadi in the quest to be recognized as the formal leader of the global jihadist movement.

Islamic State Official Publication

The first issue of Dabiq - the official publication of the Islamic State - addressed "The Return of the Khilafah". Khilafah means "new Caliphate". Read more on the new magazine here on the website of The Jamestown Foundation.

Support of Sunni Population

The Islamic State enjoys the support of many of the Sunni population. This will likely continue until as long as the Sunni see the regimes in Syria or Iraq as corrupt and anti-Sunni. They are more likely to assess that ISIS is the lesser of two evils. The solution is political - not military. The de-Baathification laws need to end and true reform take place. It will only be then that the Sunnis will assist the Iraqi government forces in the defeat of IS. As long as the United States is aligned with the Shia-led, Iran-supported Iraqi regime it will fight itself embroiled in a long-term conflict.

Videos about the Islamic State

Vice News Coverage of the Islamic State - The Battle for Iraq (part 1).

Papers about the Islamic State

Bunzel, Cole. From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State, Brookings, March 2015. "While the Islamic State dominates headlines through its brutal tactics and pervasive propaganda, there is little awareness of the unique ideology driving the group's strategy."

News Stories on the Islamic State

February 23, 2015. "Have We Got ISIS All Wrong?", The World Post. Dr. Hussein Ibish talks about the Islamic State group's ideology.

January 7, 2015. "Beyond Arms and Beards: Local Governance of ISIS in Syria". E-International Relations. Author is Rana Khalaf.

June 30, 2014. "The Islamic State Announces Caliphate". Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

June 29, 2014 "Iraq crisis: Fresh clashes over Tikrit". BBC News Middle East. Government forces attempt to retake Tikrit from Sunni rebels but fail.

June 18, 2014. "Special Forces free Western oilmen surrounded by Isis". The Times.

June 17, 2014. "Iraq conflict: Kurds will not help retake Mosul". BBC News.

June 17, 2014. "US may send advisory troops to Iraq". The Boston Globe. Special Forces troops may perform advisory duties.

June 15, 2014. "Captured Iraqi soldiers murdered by militants". The Guardian.


1. For more on 'Daesh' see "John Kerry starts calling the Islamic State a name they hate", The Washington Post, by Adam Taylor, December 5, 2014.

2. Some info in this paragraph taken from a news article entitled "ISIS Traces Its Roots to 2003", Defense in Depth,  February 26, 2015.


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