“The Islamic State is failing at being a state”

For a while, iconoclastically-minded journalists liked to hold up the Islamic Courts Union of Mogadishu as the future of Somalia. For about six months they brought a semblance of peace and security to the capital in 2006. They were backed by businessmen who saw the benefits of law and order – albeit a pretty strict form of Sharia. Then the Islamists decided to try to ban smoking – having already banned qat and flogged boys caught smoking hash – and suddenly they were on the back foot, riven by splits and losing the backing of their patrons. The Ethiopians (backed by the US) attacked shortly after and the result is a seven-year insurgency with huge security implications for East Africa and beyond…

We’ll never know. But my suspicion is that had Ethiopia stayed out then the courts would simply have come and gone like so many other Somali power players.

And I wonder whether something similar might be happening in Isil-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq. Unless Isil can command the support of local populations by delivering basic services then they will have a limited future – unless that is they can harness the warplanes overhead and rally anti-Western sentiment…

This from The Washington Post…

The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules.

Services are collapsing, prices are soaring and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

It also calls into further question the rather dubious account of Jurgen Todenhofer.

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