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The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution

The essential “on the ground” report on the fastest-growing new threat in the Middle East from the Winner of the 2014 Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year Award 

Born of the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, the Islamic State astonished the world in 2014 by creating a powerful new force in the Middle East. By combining religious fanaticism and military prowess, the new self-declared caliphate poses a threat to the political status quo of the whole region.

In The Rise of Islamic State, Patrick Cockburn describes the conflicts behind a dramatic unraveling of US foreign policy. He shows how the West created the conditions for ISIS’s explosive success by stoking the war in Syria. The West—the US and NATO in particular—underestimated the militants’ potential until it was too late and failed to act against jihadi sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Reviews

  • “Quite simply, the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today.”
  • “A wealth of telling detail.”
  • “Amid the many books published on the current conflicts reshaping the Middle East, few are as informative or perceptive as The Rise of Islamic State.”
  • “Patrick Cockburn spotted the emergence of ISIS much earlier than anybody else and wrote about it with a depth of understanding that was just in a league of its own. Nobody else was writing that stuff at that time, and the judges wondered whether the Government should consider pensioning off the whole of MI6 and hiring Patrick Cockburn instead.”
  • “A wonderful book.”
  • “Patrick Cockburn, of the London Independent, is one of the best informed on-the-ground journalists. He was almost always correct on Iraq.”
  • “Authoritative.”
  • “Packed with first-class research and analysis...Cockburn draws on his considerable journalistic prowess to render this incredibly complex and misunderstood conflict comprehensible. His experience forms a useful text for those at all levels of familiarity with the conflict. His analysis offers an exceptional window into what is without doubt the most vital conflict the world is currently facing."”
  • “Excellent.”
  • “His dispatches from Iraq are an exemplary untangling of the political and social complexity that lies behind one of the world’s great crises. He writes fairly, compassionately and clearly, with a steady and knowledgeable eye.”
  • “Has anyone covered this nightmare [in the Greater Middle East] better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now.”
  • “A brilliant book on ISIS.”
  • “An invaluable history of IS along with a powerful critique of Western policy in Iraq and Syria and an unsparing analysis of Shia politics in Baghdad.”
  • “Cockburn's book The Rise of Islamic State is considered the essential primer on the organization.”

Blog

  • One Day Without Us—A Migrant Solidarity Reading List

    Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.

    Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.

    The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.

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  • Perry Anderson and Suleiman Mourad: Islamism and the Contemporary Arab World

    At no other time has the image of Islam gained so much public attention. Yet, this image is replete with misinformation and ignorance about the theology, history and practice of Islam.

    In the Mosaic of Islam Perry Anderson and the acclaimed historian of Islam Suleiman Mourad aim to introduce the long history of Islam and its reception, from Muhammad to the present, in an open and accessible manner. In this extract from the book, Anderson and Mourad discuss the antagonism between Shiʿis and Sunnis, the causes and effects of the Arab Spring, Israel's place in the Middle East, and the history of Pan-Arabism.



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  • A Higher Standard

    "We know that the work for the left now is long and slow and that it requires force and numbers and commitment at a grassroots, community level. We must also recognise that the challenge for the left in 2017 is one of transnational solidarity: figuring out how to join up, link up and learn from global struggles." - Rachel Shabi looks back at a year of many challenges, and what we can do to build solidarity and resistance in 2017.

    Of course it wasn’t the worst year, ever. Those bewailing the myriad awfulness of 2016 know history has dealt worse than the year of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, the year of deadly terror attacks around the world, a desperate refugee crisis and an alarming rise in far-right forces across Europe. Even ignoring swathes of history, recent years have been awful, too: the five since the Arab Uprisings have seen grotesque war in Syria, a deadly assault on Yemen, repression and human rights abuses in Egypt and Bahrain – as well as a harsh crackdown in Turkey, once considered to be a ‘model’ for the region. Egyptian analysts might well say the “worst year ever” was 2013, when a military coup put their authoritarian, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in charge.


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Other books by Patrick Cockburn