Wednesday, July 9, 2014

All Eyes on the Caliphate

By Jordan Morris

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has recently declared the caliphate and the group known as ISIS has changed its moniker to simply the Islamic State. According to Charlie Cooper who is a researcher at the Quillium Foundation, (a think-tank dedicated to combating religious extremism) in declaring the caliphate, al-Baghdadi has presumed the position, “…leader of Muslims the world over and the successor of the Prophet Muhammad and a divinely appointed leader of Muslims”. Cooper goes on to question the integrity of an extremist jihadist’s ability to claim authority to the entire Muslim world. At the same time al-Maliki’s government have begun their offensive against the new caliphate, targeting Tikrit amongst other IS held territory. A spokesman for the government claims that thousands of Sunni tribal forces have assisted them in fighting off the Islamic State. Amidst the turbulence that is taking place in Iraq, the concussion has spread across the globe.

The conflict in Iraq has further-reaching implications for more than just its immediate neighbors. In India, newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his first foreign policy crisis. India, already in an energy crisis Modi is determined to solve, now must focus on the future of Iraq, who provides 25 million tons of crude oil to India yearly. India remains optimistic about their energy imports, citing that 90% of Iraq’s oil supply comes from the pro-government-Shia dominated south, and that they have access to a diversity of other OPEC suppliers. That being said they have continue their oil reserve program to compensate for any crisis that may narrow their supply. Oil notwithstanding, Modi still faces the issue of how to bring home Indian workers that are now trapped in Iraq. The Indian government is confident that this crisis will not affect oil imports or any of the other domestic and economic challenges they face as Modi prepares to present his first budget in July.

Part of this concussion is also the things that we look over. For instance, in Egypt, several Al-Jazeera reports have been given heavy prison sentences after being accused and charged with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and ‘reporting false news’. One Amnesty International representative ruled the proceedings as a ‘dark day’ for media rights. Not a good start after overthrowing their second president. In Eastern Europe, a peace deal was drawn up between separatists, the Kremlin, and Kiev that sought to a cease fire and negotiations. Violence has decreased for the most part but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko notes that separatists must disarm and dislodge from their positions, something that they refuse to do. Amid the cease-fire that exists throughout eastern Ukraine, Slavyansk is still consumed by fighting which resulted in a Ukrainian helicopter being shot down. Going further east we are still reminded that Thailand has just undergone its second military coup in ten years after fierce protests around the country. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gone on a campaign of constitutional reinterpretation, hoping to open negotiations about the reach of Japan’s constitutional Article 9, which forbids them from having an offensive military. Tokyo insists that it is important to renegotiate the article so they can defend themselves against their aggressive neighbors, China and North Korea. On top of Japan’s constitutional woes, there’s still the fact that Fukushima is a disaster and workers can’t be there to clean up more than a few hours a day because of how toxic it is. There have been reports of contaminated ground water and blow-back from the government’s attempt to conceal the true scope of the meltdown. The grave potential is contaminated water making its way in large amounts into the ocean and spreading beyond control.

Still we turn our attention to al-Sham.

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