ISIS: le radici e le prospettive

28/04/2015, Rome

IAI scientific advisor Roberto Aliboni chaired the seminar on the roots and prospects of ISIS, a meeting that hosted the writer and security analyst Umberto Profazio, who presented his ebook 'The Islamic State: origins and developments' ('Lo stato islamico: origini e sviluppi'), a comprehensive publication on the caliphate that fills a gap in Italy. Aliboni opened the event by highlighting that, unlike other extremist actors (especially Al Qaeda), ISIS has attempted to achieve some kind of social and territorial organization, and has thus started a process of revision of the traditional state structure that started at the end of World War I.

Profazio summarized the content of his book, which stretches from the origins of ISIS, starting with the situation in Iraq, to the effects the expansion of the caliphate is creating today in the jihadist galaxy. The book also describes the domestic and global dimensions related to ISIS. As far as internal politics is concerned, Profazio showed how the 2014 Iraqi election brought about a generational turnover, which has led to an attempt to reach a compromise between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Each group has placed a representative as the head of the presidency of the Council, the Republic and the Parliament, respectively. However, the regional context appears to be more negative, as many states have been accused of financing al-Baghdadi. In particular, two countries stand out for their ambiguity: Iran, in which the Shiite militias are acquiring more power, and Turkey, that has become a frontier for foreign fighters.

Finally, Profazio touched on the ways the caliphate finances itself, which consist mainly of the exploitation of oil in Iraq and Syria, together with ransoms from kidnappings and, finally, the trafficking of archeological artifacts. Significant during the final discussion was the intervention by the former Director of the Middle East secret services Daniele Piano, as he included American diplomat Paul Bremer among those responsible for the formation of extremist movements in the Levant. He cited two reasons behind the accusation: having driven members of the Socialist Ba'ath Party out of Iraq, and having dismantled the almost-exclusively Sunni army. Both of these actions gave al-Zarqawi (head of Al-Qaeda) the opportunity to use Sunni resentment against the US and the Shiites.

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