Life in the Caliphate
"The 5 or 6 million people living in ISIS-controlled territory exist in a world full of prohibitions and regulations. Breach of these divinely inspired rules is savagely punished."
In this extract from The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East, Patrick Cockburn brings us an insight into life in the caliphate, through a series of interviews with those living within its walls. The Age of Jihad is 50% off as part of our end of year sale until Jan 1.
16 March 2015
Abbas, a 53-year-old Sunni farmer from Fallujah.
He says the Americans, Iraqi government and ISIS have all brought disaster and lists the wars that have engulfed his home town in the past 10 years. ‘All of them are killing us,’ he says. ‘We have no friends.’
- Fallujah, PA News
A crucial early success for the Islamic State came when ISIS-led forces seized the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, on 3 January 2014, and the Iraqi Army failed to win it back. This was the first time that ISIS had ruled a large population centre and it is important to understand how it behaved and how and why this behaviour became more extreme as ISIS consolidated its authority. The stories of two men, Abbas (generally known as Abu Mohammed) and Omar Abu Ali, who come from the militant Sunni strongholds of Fallujah and the nearby town of al-Karmah, explain graphically what happened during those first crucial months when ISIS was in power.
Abbas is a 53-year-old Sunni farmer from Fallujah. He recalls the joyous day when ISIS first entered the city: ‘At the beginning we were so happy and called it “the Islamic Conquest”. Most of the people were offering them feasts and warmly welcoming their chief fighters.’ ISIS told people that it had come to set up an Islamic state, and at first this was not too onerous. A Sharia Board of Authority was established to resolve local problems. Abbas says that ‘everything was going well until ISIS also took Mosul. Then restrictions on our people increased. At the mosques, local imams started to be replaced by people from other Arab states or Afghanistan. During the first six months of ISIS rule, the movement had encouraged people to go to the mosque, but after the capture of Mosul it became obligatory and anybody who violated the rule received 40 lashes.’ A committee of community leaders protested to ISIS and received an interesting reply: ‘The answer was that, even at the time of the Prophet Mohammed, laws were not strict at the beginning and alcoholic drinks were allowed in the first three years of Islamic rule.’ Only after Islamic rule had become strongly entrenched were stricter rules enforced. So it had been in the 7th century and so it would be 1,400 years later in Fallujah.
Abbas, a conservative-minded community leader with two sons and three daughters in Fallujah, says he had no desire to leave the city because all his extended family are there, though daily life is tough and getting tougher. As of February 2015, ‘people suffer from lack of water and electricity which they get from generators because the public supply only operates three to five hours every two days.’ The price of cooking gas has soared to the equivalent of £50 a cylinder, so people have started to use wood for cooking. Communications are difficult because ISIS blew up the mast for mobile phones six months ago, but ‘some civilians have managed to get satellite internet lines.’
However, it was not the harsh living conditions but two issues affecting his children that led Abbas to leave Fallujah hurriedly on 2 January 2015. The first reason for flight was a new conscription law under which every family had to send one of their sons to be an ISIS fighter. Abbas did not want his son Mohamed to be called up. Previously, families could avoid conscription by paying a heavy fine but at the start of this year military service in ISIS-held areas became obligatory. The second issue concerned one of Abbas’s daughters. He says that one day ‘a foreign fighter on the bazaar checkpoint followed my daughter, who was shopping with her mother, until they reached home. He knocked on the door and asked to meet the head of the house. I welcomed him and asked, “How I can help you?” He said he wanted to ask for my daughter’s hand. I refused his request because it is the custom of our tribe that we cannot give our daughters in marriage to strangers. He was shocked by my answer and later attempted to harass my girls many times. I saw it was better to leave.’
Abbas is now in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) area with his family. He regrets that ISIS did not stick with its original moderate and popular policy before the capture of Mosul, after which it started to impose rules not mentioned in sharia. Abbas says that ‘we need ISIS to save us from the government but that doesn’t mean that we completely support them.’ He recalls how ISIS prohibited cigarettes and hubble-bubble pipes because they might distract people from prayer, in addition to banning Western- style haircuts, T-shirts with English writing on them or images of women. Women are not allowed to leave home unaccompanied by a male relative. Abbas says that ‘all this shocked us and made us leave the city.’
Omar Abu Ali, a 45-year-old Sunni Arab farmer from al-Karmah.
A more cynical view is held by Omar Abu Ali, a 45-year-old Sunni Arab farmer from al-Karmah (also called Garma) 10 miles north-east of Fallujah. He has two sons and three daughters and he says that, when ISIS took over their town last year, ‘my sons welcomed the rebels, but I wasn’t that optimistic.’ The arrival of ISIS did not improve the dire living conditions in al-Kharmah and he did not take too seriously the propaganda about how ‘the soldiers of Allah would defeat Maliki’s devils.’ Still, he agrees that many people in his town were convinced, though his experience is that Saddam Hussein, Nouri al-Maliki or ISIS were equally bad for the people of al- Kharmah: ‘They turn our town into a battlefield and we are the only losers.’
Al-Kharmah is close to the front line with Baghdad and endures conditions of semi-siege in which few supplies can get through. A litre of petrol costs £2.70 and a bag of flour more than £65. Omar tried to buy as much bread as he could store to last his family a week or more ‘because even the bakeries were suffering from lack of flour.’ There was constant bombardment and in February 2015 the last water purification plant in town was hit, though he is not clear if this was done by artillery or US air strikes: ‘The town is now in a horrible situation because of lack of water.’
Omar spent five months working for IS, though it is not clear in what capacity, his main purpose being to prevent the conscription of his two sons aged 14 and 16. Rockets and artillery shells rained down on al-Karmah, though Omar says they seldom hit ISIS fighters because they hid in civilian houses or in schools. ‘The day I left, a school was hit and many children were killed,’ he recalls. He says US air strikes and Iraqi Army artillery ‘kill us along with ISIS fighters. There is no difference between what they do and the mass killings by IS.’ Omar had been trying to flee for two months but did not have the money until he managed to sell his furniture. He is now staying outside Arbil, the Kurdish capital, where his sons and daughters work on local farms which ‘is at least better than staying in al-Kharmah’.
He says the Americans, Iraqi government and ISIS have all brought disaster and lists the wars that have engulfed his home town in the past 10 years. ‘All of them are killing us,’ he says. ‘We have no friends.’
18 March 2015
Faisal, a 35-year-old government employee, married with two children, from Hit.
‘First let me tell you how ISIS entered the city,’ he says. ‘At 4 a.m. we heard an explosion; ISIS had exploded a bomb at the main checkpoint. Then they started fighting inside and outside the city. They captured all the police stations, aside from two that resisted until 5 p.m., after which ISIS had total control.’
It was on 4 October, 2014 that ISIS captured the small city of Hit, seizing complete control in the space of just a few hours. For the city’s 100,000 mostly Sunni residents the takeover by the self-proclaimed Islamic State has brought changes that some support, but others deeply resent.
Among those living in Hit when ISIS rolled in was Faisal, a 35-year- old government employee who is married with two children, and a keen observer of all that has befallen the agricultural centre and former transport hub over the past five months. He recently fled to the Kurdish capital, Arbil, where he describes the rule of ISIS and its impact on Hit, starting with the day the city was captured. ‘First let me tell you how ISIS entered the city,’ he says. ‘At 4 a.m. we heard an explosion; ISIS had exploded a bomb at the main checkpoint. Then they started fighting inside and outside the city. This was because some of their fighters were attacking from outside but others were locals, who belonged to sleeper cells and attacked the Iraqi security forces from behind. They captured all the police stations, aside from two that resisted until 5 p.m., after which ISIS had total control.’
Faisal (not his real name), says he had no problems with ISIS checkpoints even during the first days after the jihadist group captured Hit, because they were often manned by his neighbours who knew who he was. They had lists of wanted people and they sometimes checked ID cards.
One of the first things that happened was that the electricity went off. This was because 90 per cent of power in Anbar province comes from a hydroelectric power station, the largest in Iraq, at Haditha, 50 miles up the Euphrates river from Hit. ISIS had seized most of the province but not Haditha. Faisal explains: ‘When ISIS took Hit, they stopped food being sold to people in Haditha because it was still held by the government. In response, Haditha cut off the supply of electricity to Hit and many other cities which had come under ISIS control.’ This stopped all projects in Hit dependent on electricity, including the water-treatment stations, so there was a water shortage. People had to obtain their water from the heavily polluted Euphrates.
Because Hit is at the centre of an agricultural area there continues to be plentiful food available at cheap prices. The problem is that, although food is inexpensive, many cannot afford to buy it because all paid work has stopped and nobody is earning any money. Paradoxically, the only people still paid are Iraqi government employees, because even though it has lost control of the city, Baghdad wants to retain their loyalty, and ISIS does not want to prevent earnings that it can tax. ISIS provides some services itself by taking domestic gas cylinders, almost invariably used in Iraq for cooking, to be refilled in the group’s Syrian capital Raqqa.
Faisal particularly resents ISIS’s vigorous intervention in every aspect of daily life in Hit. ‘They poke their noses into education, mosques, women’s clothes, taxes on shops [Zakat], and many other aspects of life,’ he says. ‘My parents and brothers told me yesterday via satellite internet call that there are about 2,000 men appointed to check the shops in the city and collect the taxes under the name of Zakat, not just from the shops, but from employees’ salaries.
‘In education they changed the courses taught before and brought in new ones that are being taught now in Raqqa and Fallujah. Some courses are modified or cancelled, like philosophy and chemistry. They cancelled classes in art, music, geography, philosophy, sociology, psychology and Christian religion, and asked mathematics teachers to remove any questions that refer to democracy and elections. Biology teachers can’t refer to evolution. Arabic classes are not allowed to teach any “pagan” poems.’ (IS refers to anything outside the boundaries of its self-declared caliphate as the Pagan World.)
IS is paranoid about mobile phones and the internet being used to communicate information about it, giving away the location of its leaders and military units which could then be destroyed by US air strikes. Until February 2015, mobile phones were working in Hit, but then there was heavy fighting in the nearby town of al-Baghdadi and IS, fearing spies, blew up the mobile telephone masts. The internet has not worked in Anbar Province for the past eight months, compelling people to use satellite inter- net connections that are monitored by IS. More recently the group offered a limited internet service, though this is only available in internet offices and other locations monitored by the jihadist group. There is no internet access from private homes, while in the public locations, Faisal says, ‘ISIS can spy on computers so they can see what you are surfing and to whom you are talking.’
Predictably, ISIS focuses on religion and spreading its variant of Islam. Faisal says: ‘Many preachers (imams) were replaced by foreign preachers from the Arab world, mostly Saudis, Tunisians and Libyans, as well as Afghans. Some new imams are appointed temporarily just for Friday speech and prayer, while others are permanent appointments. ISIS removed some of the old preachers who have left for Baghdad or KRG. These are often Sufis, whose beliefs are rejected by IS.’
There are many other signs of ISIS imposing its cultural agenda in Hit. Faisal says that ‘at the entrance to every main street and bazaar, there are ISIS groups holding black dresses that cover the whole body including the face and head. If a woman does not have one, she must buy one [for about £8] and the money goes to the ISIS treasury.’
Are people joining ISIS in Hit? Faisal says they are, often for economic reasons. ‘I know many people in my neighbourhood in Hit who joined IS,’ he says. ‘They are paid little money, about 175,000 dinars [£80], but they say that the salary is enough because they also enjoy many privileges, including free fuel, cooking gas, sugar, tea, bread and many other food- stuffs and services.
‘ISIS still has a strong financial basis. It confiscates the houses of the people who were previously employed in the police, courts and security forces. These houses, and any furniture in them, are confiscated by the sharia [legal or religious] court, where the judges are Libyan and Tunisian, though the other staff are locals. The ruling authority in Hit is headed by the military governor, the religious [legal] governor, the security governor and finally the administrative governor.’
When discussing the origins and motivations of ISIS as a movement, Faisal, hitherto factual and down-to-earth, falls back on conspiracy theories. Because he believes that the actions of ISIS will be very damaging to the Sunni in the long term, he is convinced that it must be under the control of the Sunni’s traditional enemies. ‘To me, ISIS is an Iranian–American project and, when its mission ends, ISIS may leave the region,’ he says. ‘Most of the Sunni people who experience the rule of ISIS do not believe it is establishing a state, but intends to destroy Sunni areas.’
More realistically, Faisal detects a lack of seriousness in Baghdad’s efforts to drive out IS, saying that ‘so long as corruption prevails, any solution to the problems of the country, including the recapture of cities taken by IS, will not work.’ As for the impact of US air strikes, ‘they are limiting the movement of ISIS a little bit and weakening it, but not more.’
How does ISIS compare with its predecessor, al-Qa’ida in Iraq? Faisal has strong opinions on this: ‘I remember when we were dealing with al-Qa’ida in 2005 and 2006. Al-Qa’ida men are angels compared to the demons of IS. In Hit 10 years ago, there were many military operations by al-Qa’ida, but nobody thought of leaving the city as many do today. The old al-Qa’ida was much better than IS. We hate the government, but ISIS is not the appropriate substitute. We hate IS, but imagine if the Shia militia were the substitute for it! The situation would be more horrible. Every substitute is worse than the previous one.’
16 May 2015
Aysha, a 32-year-old mother of two children, from Mosul.
It was when ISIS issued a fatwa saying a wife should obey her husband in all matters, including becoming a suicide bomber, that Aysha decided to flee her home in Mosul.
- women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from Koran urging women to wear a hijab in the northern province of Raqqa - REUTERS/Stringer
She recalls that her husband did not ask her directly to be a suicide bomber, but gradually started talking about it. ‘He was coming home once a week,’ she says, ‘but recently he came home every day, and finally asked me to attend a new course showing how a Muslim woman could support Muslim society with her soul and body.’
Aysha, which is not her real name, attended the course for two days along with many other women. She was appalled by what she heard. She says ‘the course was a sort of brainwashing, teaching women to sacrifice cheap worldly things—blood, flesh, soul—for the victory of more precious things—religion, Allah, the Prophet, and, most importantly, the eternal afterlife.’ But instead of being persuaded by these teachings, Aysha was thinking about her children and how to rescue them from the situation she found herself in. On the third day of the course she pretended to be ill and claimed that her son had flu so she had to stay at home. She says that on 3 April 2015, ‘at the time of the Friday prayers I took my children and told them that we were going to visit their aunt in the same district, al-Rifa’ey, that we lived in, but in fact I had already arranged what to do through my cousin. He lives in Zakho [in north-west KRG] and he has helped many people to escape Mosul.’ She adds that the cousin knows many smugglers in Mosul and KRG. ‘It cost me about $1,200 to flee with my son and daughter,’ she says.
Aysha was forced to pledge total obedience to her husband, even when it came to suicide bombing. What happened to her illustrates the complete subjection of women under the rule of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Their status has been reduced to that of chattels without rights or independence. A woman is not allowed to leave her house without being accompanied by a male relative. If she does so and is stopped by ISIS fight- ers or officials, they take her back to her home and her husband is given between 40 and 80 lashes for allowing her out alone. All women going outside must wear the niqab, a cloth covering the head and face. In no other society on earth are women treated like this, not even in Saudi Arabia, where they are forbidden to drive, or in Afghanistan, where girls’ schools have been attacked and burnt.
Aysha’s story gives an insight into marriage and daily life within the Caliphate. She gives a fascinating account of the last months of her mar- riage and her relations with her husband, whom she does not want to name because this might compromise the safety of her children. Prior to ISIS forces unexpectedly capturing Mosul last year her husband had been an officer in the Iraqi Army. ISIS kills many of its opponents who are Shia or Yazidi and has driven Christians out of Mosul and surrounding towns, but it offers forgiveness to Sunni Muslims who publicly repent working for the Iraqi Army or government. Aysha says that her husband announced his repentance and offered his services to ISIS as a soldier, though it was five months before they trusted him enough to accept him into their ranks where he became a unit commander.
Aysha was never sure exactly what he did. ‘He never told me anything,’ she says, ‘and I didn’t dare ask him because when I once did so his answer was: “Don’t poke your nose into things.”’ She found drops of blood on his uniform and suspected he took part in killings. He was earning a lot of money and had his share of spoils, property and valuables confiscated by ISIS from those it deems to be its enemies. Aysha stole part of her husband’s savings, recalling that ‘when I left home, I had about $6,000 in addition to my jewellery, but I paid a lot to get out of the city and I paid in advance to get to Turkey.’
After her husband was accepted into ISIS as a military officer, Aysha found that his behaviour began to change and he became more aggressive. She says that recently he had started to ask her for obedience ‘even when it comes to the sacrifice of the soul and body, otherwise I will not win paradise in the afterlife and hell will be my place. In this life I may be punished or be taken to jail.’ She responded to these threats by pretend- ing to be wholly obedient to him and to sharia. Aside from pressure on her to become a suicide bomber, she feared that if her husband were killed she would be compelled to marry another ISIS commander. It was when her husband was absent on some military operation that Aysha fled to Arbil, the capital of the KRG. She has had no contact with him since her escape.
Becoming a martyr in the cause of defeating the enemies of religion is at the heart of the ISIS ideology, as Aysha was taught during the course her husband insisted she attend. Suicide bombing is an effective military tactic, turning fanatical but untrained volunteers into lethal weapons. Families across the Caliphate, which has a population of 6 million, are fearful that their children will be brainwashed into this self-sacrifice.
Noura, a 36-year-old married woman, from Mosul.
This was why Noura, a 36-year-old married woman, fled Mosul with her husband and six children. ISIS had established camps where young teenagers were trained for suicide bombing. Noura, who wants her real name kept secret, reached Arbil on 22 March 2015. She says that the main reason she and her family left is that ‘my children were under threat because ISIS decided to establish camps for adolescents between 12 and 16 to educate and train them for suicide bombing.’ She says the preachers did not speak of ‘suicide bombing’ but of ‘martyrdom honour’. When these camps were first established it was possible for families to pay a fine instead of sending their children to them, but later attendance became compulsory.
Unlike Aysha, Noura had little money and her husband was jobless. This was a further reason for the family to leave Mosul. She explains that ‘people don’t find jobs, so they offer their services to ISIS for food. The problem is that many jobless people start to be attracted to the idea of working with IS, not because they are happy with it, but because it is the only option available even if it is undesirable.’
Aside from the threat of her children being trained as suicide bombers, Noura found day-to-day living difficult in Mosul. She says there was no public supply of electricity ‘and we didn’t have the money to pay for the [electric] generators so it was terrible’. Cooking-gas cylinders were expensive, costing 80,000 Iraqi dinars (£44), and tomatoes and potatoes each cost 15,000 dinars (£8) a kilo. There was a lack of clean water. More recently, she has heard by phone from her parents, who are still in Mosul, that things have improved a little and there are two hours’ electricity per day and the price of gas has halved. ISIS must have received more money, says Noura. Her father told her that wheat farmers around Mosul will sell their harvest this year to ISIS because it is the only buyer and has promised to pay a high price.
Aysha and Noura’s accounts of life under ISIS corroborate each other, but on one point they disagree. Aysha does not think that ISIS will be defeated ‘because, although they are in financial crisis, they have solutions to their crises.’ They impose fines on people and on those leaving Mosul: some leave with permission after paying a lot of money, though others are not allowed out for security reasons.
Noura, on the contrary, believes that ISIS will be defeated because it is running out of money and becoming more corrupt. She says bribery has become rampant but she does not think that US air strikes will defeat IS. ‘The devastating factor internally is corruption—bribery, nepotism, favouritism—that will be the final blow.’
Significantly, neither woman speaks of any armed resistance to ISIS despite its moves to recruit women and children as suicide bombers.
27 June 2015
Salem, a 35 year old barber, from Fallujah.
Salem learned that his action had been reported by an ISIS informant to the local religious authority. He was arrested and then sentenced to 80 lashes to be administered in public and, in addition, his salon was to be closed. In the event, he had received only 50 lashes when ‘I fainted and was taken to hospital.’
Even in a city as dangerous as Fallujah, Salem had a peculiarly dangerous occupation which meant that he was at risk of corporal punishment and financial ruin every day he lived there. A 35-year-old man, who, like every- body else quoted, does not want his real name published, he is the sole breadwinner of his family and also cares for his sick and elderly father. At the time ISIS took over Fallujah in January 2014, he was earning his living as a barber.
During the first six months of ISIS occupation, the militants were generally moderate in their enforcement of Islamic fundamentalist regulations. ISIS did not have a complete monopoly of power in the city and did not want to alienate its people. But on important issues of principle, such as the correct Islamic haircut, the militants were adamant from the beginning. Beards were obligatory: no man could be clean shaven and Western haircuts were forbidden.
‘Shaving was prohibited and the punishment for shaving someone was severe,’ says Salem. ISIS closed most of the barber salons in Fallujah, but not Salem’s, ‘because mine was a simple poor salon without posters so they didn’t close it.’ Even though his salon remained open, there were strict limits on what Salem could do for his customers, so he did not make enough money to feed his family. He tried supplementing his income by selling vegetables in the market and only worked as a barber when he got a call from old customers, friends and relatives.
He had no trouble until the day of his cousin’s wedding when disaster struck. He says: ‘My cousin came to my salon and asked me not only to dress his hair, but to shave his beard.’ Salem was horrified by such a dangerous proposal because he was conscious of the punishment ISIS was likely to inflict on any barber ignoring the shaving ban. He turned his cousin down flat, but the man then asked for his hair to be cut short in a modern way rather than left to grow long as ISIS demanded. The cousin argued that ‘nobody would notice because it was the afternoon and the street was empty.’ Unwillingly, Salem complied with his cousin’s request and ‘dressed his hair, adding gel to make it look good’.
Salem and his cousin soon found out that they had badly underestimated how closely ISIS monitored illicit haircuts. Four days after the wedding, Salem learned that his action had been reported by an ISIS informant to the local religious authority. He was arrested and then sentenced to 80 lashes to be administered in public and, in addition, his salon was to be closed. In the event, he had received only 50 lashes when ‘I fainted and was taken to hospital.’
Deprived of his ability to make a living in Fallujah, Salem went first to Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, which was mostly under ISIS control. ISIS monitors and restricts movement within its boundaries but he was able to pass through ISIS checkpoints, explaining that he was going to visit his brother in Ramadi. He stayed there only four days because of continuing air strikes and shelling shortly before ISIS captured the last government-held enclaves on 17 May 2015. He left for Baghdad and finally Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where he hopes to find a job.
Salem says that many families were leaving Ramadi, but adds revealingly that ‘many preferred to stay, among whom was my brother. He says that, although they are living under bombs, ISIS is far better than the Shia militia and the Iraqi Army.’ For all its failings, Sunni Arabs in Iraq contrast ISIS with an arbitrary and dysfunctional Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. Asked to compare the situation in Ramadi before and after the ISIS takeover, Salem says that under government rule, Ramadi had no electricity, no fuel, no internet and no clean water. The local hospital and medical centre were not working despite vain pleas to the government from local people. ‘Under the rule of IS,’ says Salem, who has no reason to like the group which beat him savagely and closed his business, ‘many big generators have been brought to Ramadi from Fallujah and Raqqa. In addition, they are repairing the power station at Khesab. As for the hospital, ISIS brought in doctors, surgeons and nurses from Syria, so it is working again.’
The 5 or 6 million people living in ISIS-controlled territory exist in a world full of prohibitions and regulations. Breach of these divinely inspired rules is savagely punished. Salem says that nobody in Fallujah is ignorant of ISIS rules because they were previously read out in public every day, though this has now been reduced to three times a week.
Speaking from memory, he gives a number of examples:
• Girls are not allowed to wear jeans and must wear Islamic dress (abaya and veil). Make-up is prohibited.
• No smoking of cigarettes or hubble-bubble. The punishment is 80 lashes, but may include execution if there are repeated violations.
• Using the word ‘Daesh’ is forbidden and the punishment is 70 lashes.
• Women’s sewing shops are closed in case a man enters.
• Women’s hairdressers are closed for the same reason.
• Gynaecologists must be female.
• Women shall not sit on chairs either in the market or in a shop.
• Shops must close at the time of prayers.
There are many other crimes and prohibitions that Salem might have mentioned.
When ISIS declared on 29 June 2014 that it was re-establishing the Caliphate, its opponents in the outside world hoped that its eccentric laws and their brutal application would provoke resistance. After all, what was being enforced went far beyond sharia or Saudi Wahhabism, so many of whose tenets are similar to those of IS. But there is as yet no sign of counter-revolution or even effective armed resistance against a movement that has mercilessly crushed all opponents. Those living within ISIS territory who hate and fear it have reacted by fleeing rather than resisting. The self- declared Caliphate is too well rooted to disappear. Its slogan, ‘The Islamic State remains, the Islamic State expands,’ is still true.
— extracted from The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East by Patrick Cockburn - currently 50% off as part of our end of year sale until Jan 1.
Crisis and Conflict in the Middle East: A Reading List
"The demons released by this age of chaos and war in the Middle East have become an unstoppable force" — Patrick Cockburn looks at the eight wars being fought in the Middle East, explaining why "it is impossible to move one piece on the political chessboard without impacting the others".
As Iraqi forces advance on the city of Mosul, Patrick Cockburn looks back at the 2014 ISIS seizure of the second-largest city in Iraq.