[Marxism] Fwd: Owen Bennett-Jones reviews ‘Isis’ by Fawaz A. Gerges, ‘Isis’ by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan and ‘Irregular War’ by Paul Rogers · LRB 3 November 2016

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 28 17:08:47 MDT 2016

Islamic State has killed many more Sunnis than al-Qaida. But the most 
important point of difference between the two concerns the Shias. For 
bin Laden and Zawahiri anti-Shia violence, in addition to being a 
distraction, undermines the jihadists’ popularity. Islamic State has a 
different view, in large part because it draws support by encouraging a 
Sunni sense of victimhood. Not only were the Sunnis pushed out of power 
in Iraq but Iran, after years of isolation, is now a resurgent power. IS 
has leveraged Sunni fears of being encircled and under threat. 
Announcing the establishment of his caliphate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 
spoke of generations having been ‘nursed on the milk of humiliation’ and 
of the need for an era of honour after so many years of moaning and 
lamentation. Class politics also come into it. As Fawaz Gerges observes 
in his history of Islamic State, al-Qaida’s leadership has in large part 
been drawn from the elite and professional classes. Islamic State is 
more of a working-class movement whose leaders have roots in Iraq’s 
Sunni communities, and it has been able to play on the sectarian 
feelings of underprivileged Sunnis who believe the Shia elite has 
excluded them from power.


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