I'm excited to write that today I have a second guest editorial on Informed Comment, the widely-read blog of Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan's Department of History, who is a noted expert on the modern Middle East and South Asia, with a specialty in Shi'i Islam. The short essay is entitled, "The Death of a Caliph: Will the Reported Killings of the Islamic State of Iraq’s two senior Leaders spell the end of the Self-styled Jihadi State?"
The editorial is about the potential long-term impact of the reported killings of Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the two senior leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for several of the most violent insurgent groups operating in Iraq, the largest being Al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Here are a few snippets:
The Death of a Caliph
"Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi (Abu Omar), the head of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the head of al-Qa ‘ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI), were both reportedly killed early in the morning Sunday (April 18) in battle with U.S. and Iraqi security forces 10 kilometers southwest of Tikrit. The killings were confirmed on Monday by General Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq....The long-term importance of al-Baghdadi’s and al-Muhajir’s deaths depends a great deal on the level to which the ISI still remains a viable social movement in Iraq. While it has never enjoyed widespread active support per se in the country, the ISI nonetheless remains a potent force in the insurgency, and indeed it is the country’s most lethal..."
"...the ISI lacks the deep social roots enjoyed by many religious-nationalist groups in the Middle East, such as the Lebanese Twelver Shi‘i movement Hezbollah and HAMAS in Palestine.....Although AQI was able to survive the death of its founder, in large part due to the prevailing social conditions of the time, namely a raging civil war between Iraqi Sunni and Shi‘i Arab militias, the killing of both al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir may speed up the jihadi state’s ongoing decline....." Read the rest at Informed Comment...
My first guest editorial, "The Islamic State of Iraq’s Positions on Iraqi National Elections: The Continuing Decline of a Self-styled Jihadi State," can be read HERE.
I also recommend reading counter-terrorism expert and doctoral candidate Leah Farrall's analysis at her excellent All Things Counter Terrorism blog. It was posted long after I had submitted my editorial to Prof. Cole for review, otherwise I would have hyper-linked to it in my piece.