Samer ISİS Report



Recent spread and advance of the Islamic State[1] throughout the Middle East, the war it has been waging on numerous fronts on the lands it controls in Syria and Iraq, its evolvement into a social movement by means of collaboration with local actors along with its ongoing massacres, have attracted attention of many people, particulary of the Middle East experts. As SAMER we believe, for a better comprehension of the changes in the Middle East and development of consistent, libertarian and egalitarian policies,  it is essential to thoroughly understand its structure and closely follow the activities of the Islamic State, whose impact has gone far beyond the Middle East. Although much has been said and written on it so far, lack of scientific works on IS from within the Middle East is an important issue. In this sense, to make a beginning we have prepared this study with the purpose of providing a discussion framework for broader circles.

It has become quite difficult to understand and interpret recent years’ developments in the Middle East  with old approaches, customary paradigms and given concepts. Both strategical analyses based on interests and plans of the western and regional countries, macro or micro equations of the positivist society aiming at understanding the society and politics as well as Marxism which focuses on the class and capital conflict fall short of understanding and explaining wars being waged in the Middle East, emerging dozens of large and small organizations and their connections and paradoxical paths of states and communities. While interpreting political and social formations in the Middle East, one should consider and focus on how different states and geographies articulate into modernity and capitalism and how hegemonical powers of the region compete against each other in addition to other competitions in the western world. Likewise, while following how the deep memory of the Middle East is being updated through different sects, national or ethnic identities on one hand, one should also think about uprisings against injustice and oppression on the other. Besides, it should be considered in what ways grassroots movements which actually emerged to overcome administrative or economic crises nourished or transformed the governments. As SAMER, we aim to guide our Middle Eastern studies with this ‘Islamic State’ framework text intended for a fresh effort at ‘truth seeking in the Middle East’ while overcoming approaches which fail to properly analyze or become a part of the social crises they occasionally deepen.

It is not very easy to make healthy inferences regarding the IS because most news about it are of a propagandistic or counter-propagandistic characteristic and as the public opinion pays attention to rather “scandalling” news about it most politicians base their campaigns against each other upon rumours about it. The Islamic State Framework Text has been written upon relatively scientific previous works, a close follow of pro-IS websites and interviews held with those who fought within jihadist groups since the beginning of the Afghanistan process in addition to fieldwork conducted in various Middle Eastern areas, particulary in Iraq and Syria.

This framework text aims to explain the current political , military and social status of the IS based on a detailed analysis of its emergence and growth after the Soviet-Afghan war, the relations it developed, its leaders, inner dissolutions and alliances. We also are going to discuss its ideological and intellectual background and socialization of this background. Lastly, we are going to present headings which are supposed to angle prospective social and political analyses on the IS. Presumably, in the medium term IS is going to continue to be a reality of the Middle East as well as the armed conflicts. So, there is an urgent need for political and social sciences to lay foundations of a new paradigm upon which historical narrations and anti-capitalist analyses intercept.




1.1.Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam

1.2.Taliban Period

1.3.Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s Rage Against the United States

1.4.Return to Afghanistan with Taliban and September 11

1.5.Invasion of Iraq and the Iraqi al-Qaeda; i.e., Today’s Islamic State


2.1.Musab Zarqawi and Zarqawi-Zawahiri Controversy

2.2.Iraqi Al-Qaeda Surpassing al-Qaeda, Its Iraqization and the Islamic State of Iraq

2.3.Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Period

2.4.ISIS and ISIS-Nusra Front Clashes

2.5.Foreign Factors in IS-Nusra Clashes and International Relations of the IS

2.6.Turkey and the IS

2.7.Kurds, Rojava and the IS


3.1.Factors Strengthening IS in Iraq and Syria

3.2.IS Existence Outside Iraq and Syria

3.3.IS and anti-IS International Coalition

3.4.Women and IS


4.1.Ideological-Religious Foundation of IS, Islam and the Islamic State

4.1.1.             Salafİ Sunnism

4.2.Violence and IS



Throughout the history, the geographical area named as “the Middle East”by the western world has always set the agenda of the world. A power that has no influence on the Middle East is not considered a world power no matter how broadly influential it is elsewhere. Political actors who are influential in the region have always set the agenda of the world and had a say in determining global policies. Yet, reduction of this fact solely to abundance of underground and surface resources of the region or to political economy would lead to a blindness in the Middle Eastern studies. There is no doubt that energy resources constitute major factor in “Middleeasternization” of the region. However, geopolitical importance of the Middle East is mainly based on factors going far beyond economical resources. In the present day, the Middle East-centered Islam, which has almost totally become politicized and different derivativs of which have become centers of power along with the western attempts to control, is of crucial importance in Middle East’s increasing importance. Indeed many intellectuals point out that the Middle Eastern Islamic administrations, life and knowing styles have the potential to become the most threatening force against the western modernity.[2]

It is almost impossible to mention a time without war in the Middle East throughout the modern history. However, today historical  polarizations and alliances, tribal and sectarian constructions that left deep traces on the memory, monist state structures that ignore diversities and oppress the opposition as well as modern technology and capital interests have gradually played more prominent roles on the ongoing wars. It should also be noted that, no matter how strong political, military and economical authorities they depend, foreign interventions in the Middle East fail or usually confront unexpected developments. Such interventions based on geopolitical interests have almost always provoked social segregations, diversities and power struggles engraved in the land and identities of the Middle Eastern geography. As in the case of Iraqi invasion by the Americans or the ongoing war in Syria, where sectarian clashes are triggered by the regimes and oppositional groups, such movements formed their self-dynamics thus frustrating the intervention plans, sometimes leading to destructions far beyond the interventions intended.

Although the history of foreign interventions in the Middle East dates back to pre- World War I times,  it was end of the cold war following the fall of the Soviet Union which escalated the hot war in the Middle East taking it one step further. The war known as the Soviet-Afghan War,[3] marked the revival of the present day ‘jihadist’[4] line.  Throughout the 1980s, tens of thousands of ‘mujahids’ assisted financially, politically and militarily by the western countries and their Sunni allies from the Islamic world,  went to Afghanistan to fight against the USSR, the occupant force in the country. Meanwhile, throughout the Islamic world, particulary in Turkish and Arab states, movements extensively depending on Sunni Islam and supported with great deals of allowances emerged and started their fight against communism Also, members of this alliance, pitting against each other to support ‘Afghan mujahids’ in their fight against the Soviets, not only targeted the USSR but also the Shiite rise in the Middle East which was triggered by the Iranian revolution in 1979. In this way, the ongoing Shiite-Sunni controversy dating back to 600s[5] took up a new dimension and so to say, the revolution paved the way for the Sunni-Shiite dichotomy to become a constitutent power in addition to the existing secular-religious dichotomy[6].

As a matter of fact, aftermath of the Iranian revolution, Sunni-Arab regimes which were mostly ruled under monarchies or emirates, aimed to surround Iran by a Sunni state from the east through a campaign led by the mujahids. Furthermore, the western and Sunni Arab alliance which was formed against  the USSR fully supported the Saddam regime who declared war on Iran during and right after the revolution. Again, the same western and Sunni-Arab alliance have been formed years later to fully support ‘the opposition’ against Syrian regime.

Briefly, confrontation of the Afghan jihad (Sunni) with the Islamic Revolution of Iran (Shiite) became a new milestone for Islamism. Meanwhile, the Leftist Soviet power ceased to be a threat for the west. Despite the fact that Islamism is ultimately considered a threat for the west in any form or any case, Sunni Islam is rather considered a force convenient in many aspects[7] to be worked up into a secret ally against the Shiite Islam, the ‘left’ and the eastern bloc, doing more good than harm. With this respect states of the Islamic world, particularly the Arab regimes, have been the biggest supporters and allies of the west.

Simultaneously particularly in Palestine and Lebanon, a new era opened when social problems of the Middle East would no more seek for leftist but Islamist or Islamist conservative venues to get organized and rise [8] Among such venues, Al-Qaeda had a unique place in terms of its international characteristic, harnessing modern technologies as an important tool to organize jihad, creating a wide sphere of influence based upon social and tribal ties and making its mark on the global scene by turning its practices of violence into visual feasts.

In the first section of this framework text, beginning with Al-Qaeda, we are going to examine the historical process which led to emergence of the Islamic State by bringing thousands of salaficated Muslims from very different parts of the world together around the idea of jihad. In the second part, we are going to discuss social dimensions of the current organization of the Islamic State. In the last section, we are going to give topics we suggest for further discussions.


1.1.   Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam

Among the thousands who arrived in Afghanistan for jihad from Saudi Arabia in 1979, there was a young and wealthy young man, Osama bin Laden. The Ladens were known to be the wealthiest family of Arabistan after the Saudi family. Osama bin Laden’s father, Mohammad bin Laden, one of the top building conractors of the Middle East who died in a helicopter crash, allegedly left Osama a fortune of $250 million.[9] Bin Laden was told to have fought against USSR and got wounded in a clash near Jalalabad.[10] Although he never received any formal or informal religious education, Laden was called a ‘Sheikh’ because of his leading mission in jihad and had merits to issue fatwas.

As they followed different channels to go to Afghanistan, mujahids joined different insurgent groups. But during the Afghan jihad, Palestinian Abdullah Azzam was respected as the symbol and leader of all foreign mujahids who worked hard to gather all mujahids under a single cause. Osama bin Laden and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri met Abdullah Azzam, who laid foundations of global jihad, in Afghanistan and were quite influenced by his perspectives on global jihad.[11]

Abdullah Azzam was born in Palestine in 1941. Following his education in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Arabia, Azzam resigned from his position as a lecturer at the International Islamic University in Pakistan in 1984 and moved to the border town Peshawar, to support the Afghan jihad more actively. Abdullah Azzam developed his global Salafi jihadist docrine under influence of the Ikhwan (brotherhood) leaders and their way of thinking.[12] This doctrine, suggests to bring up reawakening of the fading idea of jihadist action- which actually occupies an important place in the Islamic tradition- to the agenda of Muslims living under colonial conditions. To him, jihad was the only alternative path left to be taken by colonized Muslims. In this period of quick spread of Islamism, a jihadist perspective of Salafi characteristic attracted great deal of interest which made Abdullah Azzam into an undisputed spiritual leader for jihadists from all cults. Following the Afghan-Soviet War, in a time when he focused on further improvement of organizational acitivities, he was killed in an bomb attack by unknown assailants, in 1989.[13]

Before his mentor Abdullah Azzam was killed, his deputy Osama bin Laden, inspired by Azzam’s teachings, began to establish his own training camps using his financial power and by the intellectual support of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Thousands of volunteers underwent training in these camps and they were registered to a computer database. Inspired by this registy program, the movement started to be called ‘al-Qaeda’ which means database in Arabic.[14] Hereby, practical steps were taken towards organization of a global ‘jihadism’ theorized by Abdullah Azzam.

According to the interviews we had, in these camps the most reputable mentors gave lectures while the most talented commanders gave military training and they had no difficulty in getting military supplies. Al-Qaeda camps not only received a great deal of arms by the western and Arab countries against the Soviets but also captured ample weapons from Soviet forces enough to equip an army. Additionally, al-Qaeda had a big financial power and could purchase as many arms they needed from markets on the borderline between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seeds of IS’s present colossal armed forces were sown by al-Qaeda organization throughout the 1980s.

Civil war that broke up following withdrawal of the Soviet forces and lasted from 1989 to 1994 due to tribal conflicts did not have much negative effect on al-Qaeda. Still, witnesses of the time tell us that except for minor conflicts, mujahid sides of the civil war recognized and respected al-Qaeda which they used to call ‘the foreigners’ or ‘the Arabs’. They generally did not intrude in the areas under their control and developed friendly relationships with them.

1.2.   The Taliban Period

The fierce civil war among the müjahids had a big influence on Sunni Islamism which grew up with the Afghan jihad. Legendary heroes of the Sunni Islamic world were now fighting against and killing each other. Slaughters of mujahids against each other, village raids and ‘woman kidnapping’ became the daily routine which never fell off the agenda. Meanwhile, Shiite Islam organizing under a single political roof after the Iranian revolution could survive the so-called Iran-Iraq war[15]which in fact could be seen as a multi-national attack against Iran, considering the aisstance Iraq received. Shiite political Islam became a power challenging the US and Israel. In other words, during mid-1990s the Sunni front suffered a heavy damage while the Shiite front gradually gained strength.

Under such circumstances emerged Taliban. Being side of the war against the Soviets, states like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who were not content with the ongoing civil war and turmoil in Afghanistan, supported Taliban in the course of its emergence and provided official help to the Taliban government since they saw them the only power to bring stability to the country. Pashtuns[16], originally of the Afghan origin, who received education at madrasahs and refugee camps near border areas to the east of Pakistan, were armed with heavy artillery and made a bloody entrance to Afghanistan where the central government was very weak and mujahid groups were at war against each other. The movement was named ‘Taliban’ because it was pioneered by students coming out of madrasahs.

Being of the Hanafi sect, like many other Afghan movements, Taliban  also kept on good terms with al-Qaeda of the Salafi tradition which rejected sects and declared Shia a clear enemy. In the interviews we had, those who stayed in jihad camps at that period say that unlike all other areas of Afghanistan where they broke into through bloody clashes, Taliban entered the areas controlled by foreign mujahids with presents in their hands giving them messages of ‘unification’. Here it must be stated that Taliban’s point of origin, the Deobandi[17] school of thought adopted a unique approach. Although foundation of Deobandi madrasahs is based upon principals of Ahl us-Sunnah and Hanafi fiqh[18] a clear line of Ahl al-Hadith[19] and Sufism[20] are also evident in this movement. Thus, reducing Taliban to a sectarian ‘Hanafi-Sunni’ definition would be deficient. So, what distinguishes the Islamic line of Taliban from Salafism is not only that it follows the Hanafi sect-among four Sunni sects, Hanafi is the one most distant to Salafism- but also its Sufist tradition that Salafism has a clear attitude against.[21] Despite all these points of dissidence, al-Qaeda and Taliban have never engaged into a serious religious-sectarian clash against each other.

During the period following the Afghan-Soviet war al-Qaeda figthters and Salafi jihadists in general, established close relations with, influenced and directed local insurgent movements in countries with Muslim populations, namely Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechenia and Kashmir. Again, based on the interviews we had, we can say that during this period, despite adopting almost the same violent attitude as IS in its the law of war, al-Qaeda acted more tolerable in terms of respect for diversities and adaptation to local dynamics caompared to the IS.  However, as they gained strength and grabbed power in certain areas they started to practice their religious-sectarian tradition in an oppressive, authoritarian and intolerable way.

1.3.   Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s Rage Against the United States

The Jihadist Salafi line considers all other social-political formations heretics and enemies. Therefore, even a very strong alliance and cooperation built upon this line would sooner or later evolve into a conflict. So, just as it was the case for al-Qaeda, the issue of when and exactly with whom IS is forming alliances today leads to complex narrations, because IS might head for unpredictable targets as they are doing in Iraq today.

During the course of war against the Soviets, relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia continued on an advanced, even official basis. Saudi Arabia valued and assisted Osama bin Laden at all levels. In the post-war period Laden expected to maintain this advanced level of relationships, even further enhance his efficiency throughout the Middle East. When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990 al-Qaeda desired to deploy on borders of Arabia as a defending force. However, Arabia asked for American help which marked the start of Arabia’s problems with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Declaring deployment of US military forces in Arabia as an insult against Islam and the Prophet, Osama bin Laden took his place in the front formed against Saudi Arabia hence against the USA in the early 1990s.

Al-Qaeda took its first direct action against America in 1992, Somali, where they started to get organized.[22]  In the following years, as it is known, they carried out a number of bomb attacks against the USA in Pakistan, Arabia, Kenya and Tanzania. Osama bin Laden was now openly declaring that he would give the biggest war against the USA saying, ‘it is every Muslim’s duty to fight against the USA until the infidels are expelled from the holy lands.’[23]

1.4.   Return to Afghanistan with Taliban and September 11

Consisting mostly of Arabs, foreign mujahids continued to stay in Afghanistan during the civil war period, but Osama bin Laden, keeping every possibility in mind, made big investments in Sudan and Yemen and settled himself in Sudan in 1992. However, as a result of international pressure Sudanese government had to give messages forcing him to leave the country. Upon this Osama bin Laden had to return to Afghanistan in 1994 under auspices of Taliban.[24] Despite all their sectarian differences, al-Qaeda established far more better relations with Taliban than they did with other mujahid organizations. Particulary during their early times Taliban and al-Qaeda exchanged substantial military and political support. However, toward 2000s, Taliban began their efforts to restrain bin Laden calling him to put an end to his threatening statements, because they did not want to get into trouble as al-Qaeda was increasingly considered a threat for the rest of the world.

On September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden became the single agenda of the whole world. Fifteen of them being Saudi citizens, nineteen suicide attackers hijacked four airliners and targeted twin towers, the White House and Pentagon. They had planned schocking, message-laden attacks upon America’s political, military and financial centers. Twin towers and Pentagon were hit while the plane that targeted the White House crashed

into a rural area near Pennysylvania. Pro-al-Qaeda circles say that just like the others, the fourth plane had been planned to be hijacked by 5 attackers but that one of them had visa problems entering the USA. Despite the problem, 4 attackers were said to have sticked to their plan but their attempt failed.  However, pro-American sources claim that passengers on the plane intervened and stopped hijackers, thus the plane crashed down before reaching its target. Whatever the true version be, al-Qaeda launched a massive attack that occupied the world’s agenda for a very long time.

Aftermath of the attacks, numerous conspiracy theories were put forward. Taliban claimed that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda camps, who were under their auspices had nothing to do with the attacks. However, ‘Sheikh Osama’ delivered video messages saying, “from now on, no American citizen will feel safe until their infidel troops withdaw from holy lands of Islam.”[25]Notwithstanding Taliban’s efforts to give soft messages, the American President George Bush delivered a statement asking Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members or to pay for it.[26]

Now it was hard times for Taliban. Having no other ambition than doing politics and establishing a sharia rule in Afghanistan and maybe in some parts of Pakistan, Taliban now was facing the risk of losing their existent sovereignty. They made many offers to the USA via Pakistan in a bid to reach an agreement on interim formulas but all doors were shut to their face. [27] So they entered a period of forced term of relationship with al-Qaeda. Not much later in October 2001, the USA started joint air strikes with the UK against Afghanistan. As a result, Taliban lost their governmental power while al-Qaeda lost their camps. Nevertheless, despite immense airstrikes of the coalition launched with the help of Northern Alliance[28] for months, al-Qaeda and Taliban survived and maintained their resisting power. Meanwhile top ranking leaders of al-Qaeda and Taliban continued to deliver messages around.

September 11 and the following occupation of Afghanistan no doubt brought up dificulties for al-Qaeda.  For example, al-Qaeda members could no longer travel to different parts of the world as freely as they did before. The Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir line, where they used to wander about freely with arms in hand was now either death or the road to Guantanamo now. Their international communication opportunities were also restricted to a great extent. Contrary to expectations, al-Qaeda did not weaken but attracted more sympathy throughout the Islamic world during this period. No matter how tough the conditions were, people responded to al-Qaeda’s call for jihad and joined the movement. Meanwhile, beginning of the Iraqi occupation provided al-Qaeda with new opportunities in terms of organizing and seting strategy.

1.5.   Invasion of Iraq and the Iraqi al-Qaeda; Today’s Islamic State

The US-led coalition was giving the high signs of the upcoming Iraqi invasion following Afghanistan. In 2002, it was on everyone’s lips that CIA was carrying out activities in Iraq, paving the way for a future Iraqi invasion. While the USA was asserting that Iraq secretly possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties with radical Islamist terrorist groups on one hand, CIA was making agreements with Iraqi Kurds, Shiites, Turkmens, even Iraqi Ba’ath leaders[29] or Iraqi military commanders on the other.[30]

Many politicians and researchers in their commentaries, claimed that after fall of Saddam, Iraqi Sunni groups namely Sunni Arabs and especially those with a tendecy towards Islamist groups or al-Qaeda would lose their power to build up a resistance. They also thought the Islamic Kurdish group operating in Halabja, Ansar al-Islam, which was linked to al-Qaeda, was a small time piece to eliminate. Although they did not consider it as a very threatening regime to themselves, the USA and other western allies launched an operation against Iraq where they dreamed of a establishing a new regime which would be much more beneficial to them in all aspects. According to the plans, they were going to eliminate the regime which occasionally, if not always, made trouble and behaved obstinate to them and instead establish a new regime that they would be able to directly exploit and manipulate to apply more pressure upon Iran. ‘Free Iraq’ was going to be designed this way.

Sunni-Arab regimes of the region were to support the coalition forces, one of whose main aims were to surround Shiite-Persian Iran by way of invading Iraq. They were ready to waste Saddam in the cause of this noble ideal. Sunni groups, particulary the Salafi Sunnis were not calculated among those who would rise against the Iraqi invasion since it involved a dimension of a preemptive maneuver against Iran.  Nevertheless, as we have mentioned in examples above, no matter how many partners you have from within, such calculations from outside become obsolete when carried out on local level, because ultimately local actors have always been the determinant ones.

Saddam was racing to leadership of the Sunni-Arab world and unlike Arab kings and emirs who were distant to their people, he wanted it to be a leadership based on his people.[31] Sunni-Arab reflexes had always been effective on determining his policies. That is why he undertook the war against Iran which he named the Second Battle of Qadissiya.[32] He used to say that those coming from outside would eventually go back, pointing to the Shiite-Iranian forces as the main true danger facing the region and would warn his people against it.[33] When the coalition forces entered Iraq, when his giant statue in the Firdaws Square in Baghdad was pulled down by American soldiers and even when he was being hanged his last words expressed his deep hatred against Iran and the Shia even before the USA.[34] This basic reflex of the Iraqi Baath regime overlapped with al-Qaeda’s discourse to a great extent. As a matter of fact, throughout the history any fights and clashes had eventually turned into a fierce Arab-Persian or Sunni-Shiite war. This war also would refresh memories and lead to a similar process. This time, IS was the actor aspiring to represent the Arab/Sunni side which was about to fall into a gap.

In 2002, al-Qaeda sent a vanguard group to Iraq to make preparations for the upcoming war. This group was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who can be said to be the first factual leader of the IS. Zarqawi established rooted relations and made deals with the Saddam regime and tribes who supported it. Ansar ul-Islam[35], known as the Kurdish al-Qaeda organization, played a very important role in al-Qaeda-Iraq relations. After all, Ansar ul-Islam was leading an indirectly joint fight against other Kurdish groups of South Kurdistan with the Saddam regime. The Baath regime provided al-Qaeda with every opportunity to help them fight at their best. The both sides agreed on the fact that the real war was going to be fought against the closer and more dangerous ‘treacherous Iraqi army’ and Shiite-Iranian forces rather than the relatively further USA and coalition forces.[36]

Iraqi invasion, watched by the whole world on live stream, started on March 20, 2003. There was no serious resistance by the Iraqi army or Sunni forces against the occupational forces. Ironically, the coalition forces encountered more resistance in Shiite areas. The operation ended in less time than expected. However, after fall of Saddam, insurgent Sunni movements started powerful attacks against coalition forces and their ‘local collaborators’. As a result, armed clashes and slaughters continued for a long time particularly in areas like Fallujah, where Saddam was influential. Yet the most powerful resistance was mounted by the Iraqi al-Qaeda, who emerged in 2004 with under the name Tawhid wal-Jihad and changed its name 5 times as they grew more powerful.[37]

Official records report a total number of 4806 coalition troops killed during the Iraqi war. [38] Yet not all of them were killed by Sunni insurgent groups. Especially Mahdi Army, the militia wing of Sadr Movement[39] and another Shiite organization, Iraqi Hezbollah inflicted many casualties on coalition forces during fierce clashes in Baghdad, Najaf, Basra and Karbala. Yet it was the Iraqi people who paid they heavy price. Mostly being Shiite, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people were slaughtered by al-Qaeda-led ‘Sunni Resistance’, in bombing attacks to elections queues, market places, funerals, weddings and in mosques on account of being infidels collaborating with the coalition forces. Number of civilians killed in the name of ‘Iraqi Resistance’ doubles even maybe triples the number of those killed by coalition forces. Notwithstanding the serious discrepancies between the accounts of states and non-governmental organizations, the total civilian casualties during the Iraqi war is estimated to be about 1 million.


2.1.   Musab Zarqawi and Zarqawi-Zawahiri Controversy

For a better understanding of emergence of ISIS, and IS which breaks apart from al-Qaeda in terms of its mindset and practices, one should refer to Zarqawi-Zawahiri controversy which came to surface in Iraq and turned into armed clashes in Syria.  These names play a key role in al-Qaeda-Islamic State separation and Nusra-ISIS clashes in Syria. Although it has a personal background, the virtual reason of problem stems from the clash of two lines and grassroots represented by the two.

An Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, with a group of others, broke apart from the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, namely Muslim Brotherhood, during the presidency of Anwar Sadat[40] in Egypt. He became the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. [41] During the Afghan jihad, because most of its cadres- conditions were very hard for them to carry out activities in Egypt as they were under pressure of the government- fleed Egypt, Islamic Jihad Movement could not be effective in Egypt. So, in 1998 the movement joined al-Qaeda as a result of Zawahiri’s endeavor.[42] Known as the second man of al-Qaeda, Zawahiri has been the leader of the movement since Osama bin Laden was killed.

On the other hand, Zarqawi ideologically and socially depends on Salafizm of Hejaz-Gulf line, a region usually governed under kingdoms or emirates  where Wahhabism blends with Arabism. Hejaz-Gulf Salafizm diverges from Salafizm in countries like Egypt, Tunusia, Libya, Turkey, Syria and Algeria which are ‘secular’ and closer to the western countries in terms of social-cultural life. In these countries it salafizes breaking away from the sovereign political Islamist Ikhvan line. Despite absence of an outstanding divergence, organizations under the jihadist Salafi tradition differ in many aspects in terms of their approaches from organizational forms to statism, from ideological approaches to social ties even to their engagement with violence.

As mentioned above, following the occupation it became evident that things did not go and would not go as planned by the coalition. They encountered a strong resistance and Iran gained more areas of sovereignty than America in Sunni Iraq. Through their attempts to form alliance with Shiites against Sunni opposition in Iraq, the USA was trying to give Iran a message; “see, now we have Shiites collaborating with us”. But instead Iraqi Shiite told the USA, “we are done with exploiting you, now it is time to go back home” and began to adopt an attitude in line with and directed by Iranian policies. Indeed, years later the USA Foreign Minister Kerry confessed that invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a mistake and results of the intervention did not turn out as they expected.[43]

At first al-Qaeda had difficult times because of the American attacks despite all the support they received from the Baath regime. Meanwhile the USA was taking major blows from the Sunni resistance  while losing Iraq to Iran on the other hand. After it was understood that course of events in Iraq was developing for Iran against the USA and after it was seen that the Sunni reaction, which had the potential to socialize, could do more good than harm, the way was paved for al-Qaeda and sectarian clashes.[44] While paving way for al-Qaeda on one hand, the USA continued its ‘fight against terrorists’ by inflicting symbolic casualties on them, simultaneously soothing attacks to itself and routing them against the Shiites. Thus, they were going to be able to direct insurgent groups against Iran-driven targets which could pose more danger for the USA.

Due to its effective activities in Iraq and their effects on the worldwide agenda from then on, when mentioned, al-Qeada did not bring Afghanistan or Pakistan but Iraq to the mind, also not the Afghan but Iraqi al-Qaeda and statements by Zarqawi started to be discussed. Al-Qaeda organization lost its mobile networking ability after Afghanistan attacks and was trapped in the Middle East to a great extent. But invasion of Iraq granted al-Qaeda an new opportunity organize based on geographical control.  Besides, along with the occupation hatred against America and the west, which marked September 11, was also spreading wide. Jihadists who had previously headed towards Afghanistan from all over the world were now flocking to Iraq. Hereby, center of al-Qaeda’s global network shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq. Our studies on information sources of the two organizations reveal that between 2004 and 2006, the Afghan al-Qaeda began to feel uncomfortable with this situation and that Zarqawi increased their discomfort by taking independent decisions by himself. Osama bin Laden maintained his reputation and spiritual leadership by avoiding such conflics. However, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri began to deliver open warnings to Zarqawi. In a letter they to Zarqawi, al-Qaeda leaders indicate to the necessity of developing relations and cooperations healthy enough not to damage principles of the ‘Community’ (al-Qaeda) along with a soft criticism of the blatant violence of Iraqi al-Qaeda against people of the country which triggered sectarian clashes and raised much criticism.[45] Despite all these, Zarqawi went on his own way till he was killed in 2006. During leadership of Omar al-Baghdady who took Zarqawi’s place after his death  and later during time of Abubakr al-Baghdady the problems with the fading al-Qaeda of Afghanistan increasingly continued.

2.2.   Iraqi Al-Qaeda Surpassing al-Qaeda, Its Iraqization and the Islamic State of Iraq

Iraqi al-Qaeda was able to directly influence the Iraqi politics which was carefully followed worldwide by its powerful attacks. Particularly after the Mujahideen Shura Council, which was announced by Zarqawi before his death, al-Qaeda of Iraq did was not just an organization anymore but a Sunni insurgence coalition. Together with formation of Mujahideen Shura Council which incorporated many Sunni movements and tribes in addition to al-Qaeda, the sustained war became grassroots. Present leader of the movement following killings of two previous leaders, Abubakr al-Baghdady, who was called Caliph Ibrahim by his supporters had not been in al-Qaeda before the council. He was leading a brother movement named Sunni People’s Army then. As soon as it was announced with his followers he joined the Mujahideen Shura Council, namely the IS. His first position in IS was membership of the sharia commission which administered the courts and interfered in fields of the social and law in the name of religion.

When Zarqawi was killed in a US airstrike in 2006 Abu Omar el-Baghdady was brought to the leadership of Mujahideen Shura Council. After his rise to leadership, Iraqization of the organization further accelerated. From then on there was unification rather than solidarity with Sunni groups. A short time later in the same year, Omar al-Baghdady declared foundation of Islamic State of Iraq which was followed by formation of council of ministers. The council composed of al-Qaeda-rooted Iraqi members. Foreign fighters could take office as military commanders or judges on the field but decision makers and the shura council were only composed of Iraqis.

Omar al-Baghdady led the Islamic State of Iraq and established certain areas of sovereignty in Sunni parts of Iraq until he was killed with his deputy in a clash during a joint operation by the US forces and the Iraqi army  in Tiqrit, April 2010. For the first time street demonstrations started to be held. He neither resolved nor further deepened the problems with al-Qaeda of Afghanistan. Apart from his attacks against the USA and coalition forces, Iraqi forces and the Shiites he especially focused on unification of Sunni tribes. Having reached agreements with many Sunni-Arab tribes, Baghdady engaged in fierce clashes with uncompromising tribes supported by the USA.

2.3.   The Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Period

Following Omar al-Bagdady’s death someone from outside the council was brought to leadership. The person who was announced as the new leader upon endeavor and support of Haji Bakr[46], a previous colonel of Iraqi army during time of Saddam, was IS’s current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghhdady who was later declared caliph.

After he became the leader of the Islamic State, Baghdady delivered his first official statement when Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011. In the statement, Osama bin Laden was embraced by expressions like, ‘our leader and Sheikh’ and his path was promised to be followed and his revenge to be taken.[47]

In early times, he did not find much place on the agenda and there was no clear information about his past but after he declared the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) he had more detailed coverage on media. In June 2013, Abu Humam Bakr an intellectual from Bahrain wrote and published Baghdady’s biography.[48] The biography was verified by pro-IS circles and generally did not get any objections from any sources. The biography reveals his true identity as Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, preacher of Ahmed bin Hanbel Mosque who did his PhD degree on Islamic Culture-History and Sharia Law at Islamic University of Baghdad prior to the occupation.

Despite being an old case and having killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers every month since 2003, IS has made a powerful rise to the world agenda and become a worlwide phenomenon after taking over Mosul, heading for Southern Kurdistan and attacking on the Western Kurdistan, taking Turkish diplomats hostage and pounding at the doors of Baghdad.

Being led by Baghdadi, the IS has a governing council of 13 persons. The fact that 6 of the 13 members of the council are from Saddam’s ex-officers or ex-Baathists indicates that during Baghdady period the IS went under more influence of the Baath cadres.[49] It also should be noted that Saddam Hussain’s daughter Raghad Hussain who has been supporting the Iraqi Sunni insurgence since she took refuge in Jordan donated a significant part of her wealth to the IS.  When the IS took over Mosul she expressed her support saying, ‘the Iraqi army has retaken over Mosul’.[50]

2.4.   ISIS and ISIS-al-Nusra Clashes

Following the beginning of clashes in Syria, members of the Islamic State of Iraq, particularly foreign fighters, wanted to fight for jihad. As conditions of Syria became more convenient for jihad combined with the fact that a front in Syria overlapped with ambitions[51] of the Islamic State of Iraq, IS decided enter into Syria.

Upon Baghdady’s directives, Syrian Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani crossed into Syria and laid foundations of the Nusra Front with a group of foreign fighters. Despite lack of clear, detailed information or a picture, based on information given about him on “Tahrir Souri” website of the Syrian opposition[52] and the interview made with him by al-Jazeera,[53] we can say that his original name is Osama al-Haddawi and that he studied Medicine at University of Damascus before he joined Zarqawi-led Iraqi al-Qaeda in 2003.

The Nusra Front has grown fast based upon their military and organizational experience from Iraq along with the international support they received for their fight against Syrian regime. In Syria it has become more prominent than FSA which lacked military experience. Course of the war and political conditions indicated that Nusra was going to grow bigger and that the Syrian front would gain more importance. Baghdady- most probably based on the lesson he had taken from previous problems between the Afghan and Iraqi al-Qaeda- intervened with Nusra and al-Jawlani before they got out of control.

In April 2013, Baghdady announced establisment of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) instead of Islamic State of Iraq and said from then on they would continue their activities in Iraq and Syria under the name ISIS. Baghdady ordered Jawlani to pledge public allegience to himself, dissolve Nusra and carry on his activities under the name ISIS. Baghdady’s call was dismissed. ISIS was established but Jawlani’s refusal to obey requirements of the announcement annoyed Baghdady and the ISIS Council. Though betrayed, they decided not to give in due to external factors which are to be mentioned later under a subcategory. In a softer stamement, Jawlani said that Nusra would lose its legitimacy and support if they merged defending that conditions were not suitable yet and it was too early for such an announcement.[54] However, ISIS stood behind its decision. Baghdady announced dissolution of Nusra and ordered his fighters to leave Nusra and join ISIS.[55] Nusra lost its power by half and was going to lose more in time. In fact, according to a report on “Foreign Fighters in Syria”  issued by the Soufan Group, following announcement of ISIS about 60% -70% of Nusra Front fighters and about 30%-40% of Ahrar al-Sham fighters joined ISIS.[56]

Although he was glad with being informal al-Qaeda and he did not want to become formal al-Qaeda in terms of not damaging the relations he developed with movements that had ties with Turkey and with the international community Turkey being in the first place, Jawlani announced allegiance to the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in order not to lose more blood and regain his legitimacy among jihadists. This move actually reduced Nusra’s blood loss and enabled it to subsist. In April 2013, in a sound recording aired on al-Jazeera, Zawahiri stepped in and said that according to the Sharia and structurally Baghdady and ISIS were allegiant to himself, adding that he dissolved ISIS and that they would continue their activities in Iraq under the name Islamic State of Iraq and activities in Syria should be carried out under the name Nusra Front.[57] Not suprisingly, neither Baghdady nor ISIS took any notice of these directives and after a while it was openly announced that ISIS had no ties with al-Qaeda organization. This announcement was reported as ISIS’s break with al-Qaeda. In some way ISIS was sending a message to al-Qaeda, ‘we do not need the name of your organization anymore because we are a state now’ and ‘you keep the name, but we are the essence of al-Qaeda’ they were telling Zawahiri and Nusra. This message also foreshadowed an effort at becoming a grassroots power beyond being just a structural change or a political organization.

In a short while, ISIS grew as strong in Syria as it was in Iraq. Inflicting the heaviest blows on the regime on one hand, ISIS also attacked Nusra, Islamic Front, FSA and YPG in Rojava, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Tabqa and Aleppo rural.[58]

Today IS considers all movements that do not act in concert with them infidels and is trying to eliminate them violently. In addition religious justifications, the IS goes on to issue harsh messages threatening Nusra, Islamic Front and FSA as well as declaring them infidels and to decline calls and attempts for ceasefire for reasons like Raqqa Revolutionaries- former Nusra components but now members of FSA- giving arms to YPG[59], documents revealing a meeting between Nusra and YPG,[60] agreements between YPG and these groups who gathered under the name ‘Ahl al-Sham’,[61]and formation of a joint operation center under the name Borqan al-Firat with YPG.[62]

2.5.   Foreign Factors in IS-Nusra Clashes and International Relations of the IS 

We have discussed the controversy as the main factor leading to IS-Nusra conflict,  under the heading, ‘Musab Zarqawi and Zarqawi-Zawahiri Controversy’. However, reading evolvement of this controversy into armed clashes in the Syrian field based solely on these basic factors would be deficient. By all means, definitions based on despisement of IS and Nusra as puppets, pawns, tongs or mercenaries  which overlook their identities, administrations, willpower, social realities, mental background, world of belief and thoughts as well as their aims and targets would make a sound interpretation of the Middle East impossible. It is impossible to take a monolithic approach to any political organization or process associated with any sociological base in the Middle East or handle the cause-effect relations based on a single factor. Similarly, an approach blind to foreign factors, international relations and internal/external directions which have a considerable effect on activities of such organizations would also serve no purpose in regional analyses. In this sense, Nusra is not just Nusra and IS is not just IS.

In this context, to us, it is important to study developments, alliances and clashes in the Middle East through a historical and profound Arab-Persian-Turkish equation. Besides, Middle Eastern allies of the West have been in ongoing competitions which sometimes turn into clashes. These competitions rose to the surface during the “Arab Spring”.

Whenever they make a political, military, economic etc. move Turkey- and sometimes Qatar-[63]are confronted by the Arab Alliance led by Saudi Arabia. One of the factors that has downgraded and isolated Turkey in foreign politics in recent years has been reflection of this animosity in “the Arab Spring”. This was the situation in Tunusia and Yemen. On the other hand in Bahreyn, because it was the Shiites and Iran rather than another Arab or Turk which posed a threat risk, conflicts and clashes gave way to alliance and solidarity. Again, the ongoing civil war among tribes and organizations in Libya cannot be understood without a close look at such competitions and the relations competing states developed with local actors. Maybe Egypt sets the best-known example to this issue. Interception of Ikhwan’s progress in the region actually means interception of Turkey and Qatar. Coup staged by Sisi who was supported by Arabia against Ikhwanist Morsi was actually a coup by the Arab Alliance against Turkey, partially Qatar and Iran.[64] An Ikhwanist rule in Egypt would double Turkey’s influence on the Middle East and although contesting on Syria-Iraq, Egypt would get closer to Iran.

This historical Arabic-Persian-Turkish strife is very influential upon IS-Nusra controversy. Rather than the IS which is under influence of the Gulf, Turkey preferred to give direct assitance to Nusra, which was less risky and capable of developing relationships with Ikhwan. Nevertheless, though not treating equally, favoring all anti-Assad forces fell short of preventing Turkey from a stroke by the IS and the ‘rival alliance’ forces backing them. In other words, in Egypt, supporters or instigators of Sisi also stood behind IS and those who supported and stood behind Morsi took a stand by Nusra.[65] It also should be noted that it has become a common opinion that the USA, Israel and England are invisible ministrants of the Arab alliance.

2.6.   Turkey and the Islamic State

We think that regional policies of international powers, Turkey being in the forefront, are primarily responsible for evolvement of the emergent revolution in Syria into a civil war.[66] Just as the international coalition led by the USA is primarily responsible for emergence and expansion of IS in Iraq, Turkey has a first-degree respnsibility for existence of the Islamic State in Syria. However, contrary to the common belief, it is hard to say that Turkey did this knowingly and willfully, with a strategic consciousness or by providing direct support. Though not tallying exactly tallying with it, Pakistan-Taliban politics may help us better understand Turkey-IS relations. Because Pakistan can be hold responsible for and seen as the victim of Taliban at the same time, as strong arguments may be hold forth for both situations. Possibly thinking hard over the Islamic State with great uneasiness and communicating messages meaning ‘you do not meddle in my affairs directly or vice versa’ via its Sunni tribe connections, Turkey’s open collaboration with IS in the Middle East would enclose geopolitical contradictions in itself. Having experienced how big a problem it poses on its domestic and foreign politics,  today it is not very possible to say that Turkey has made up its mind about its policies regarding IS which is supported by the Arab alliance that deals a blow to Turkey in the Middle East on every occasion. Indeed, the world public opinion widely agrees on that Turkey has relations with IS based on presumption that IS’s attacks on Kobane would strengthen them against PKK. World’s leading newspapers often cast  news reflecting this notion regarding the issue.[67]

The biggest support granted to the IS by Turkey has been its ‘strategically deep’ policies on Syria and the Middle East which aim at the fall of the current Syrian regime.  It is known that since the very first day they started an anti-Syrian campaign, Turkey has developed relations with and sponsoring any group opposing Assad logistically or at least turned a blind eye to their activities in its territory or in the Middle East.  Though having come to the knowledge of the public opinion to some extent, such activities have been confirmed through our field researches and media monitoring studies.

On the other hand, Turkey’s insistence on not taking a clear stance against IS existence in Syria since the outset claiming it could not be destroyed before overthrow of the Syrian regime, caused tension in the relationships with the USA. Having lost its positions throughout the Middle East- notably in Tunusia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria-  one by one and surrounded in international politics, Turkey continues to invest on its indirect intervention in Syria at the expense of facing its regional allies in an effort to regain its power. Turkey believes a possible success to be earned in Syria would be a life buoy to save it from suffocation in the Middle East. Untoubtedly, such insistence served only ISIS in good stead. Indeed, most of those who follow a salafist-jihadist line fighting under components of FSA and Islamic Front, whom Turkey considered to be moderate and thus supported, left their groups and joined ISIS. Turkey still maintains its ties with FSA, Islamic Front and Nusra (secretly) whose activities on the field have lessened dramatically.

Surely, there is a contradiction which needs to be underlined. All the groups that Turkey have links with are in clashes with IS. In other words, looking at the Syrian battlefield, it can be said that Turkey actually supports groups who clash with IS. Likewise, we consider all those documents revealing “trucks loaded with weapons” or “providing all kinds of support to armed groups” which were interpreted[68] as proofs of “Turkey-IS partnership” to be support actually sent to abovementioned groups which have clashes with IS. In fact, fighters who left Nusra and joined IS state transfer of weapons to groups fighting against IS through Nusra as one of the foremost reasons for their separation. For example, Nusra’s ex-Atma chief Abu Mohammad- later killed by YPG in Kobani- who left Nusra and joined IS with his men, said that Turkey delivered them arms aid to them and also to FSA and Islamic Front via them upon Jawlani’s command. He adds that he did not follow Jawlani’s directives on arms transfer to other groups through Nusra in his area of responsibility; ‘we knew that those weapons were not transferred to the groups fighting against Bashar Assad but against our brothers fighting in Haritan and other areas (areas of IS)’ he said.[69]

It can be estimated that Turkey played an important role in the ceasefire agreement between YPG and FSA, Islamic Front and (semi-officially) Nusra. Also the fact that IS carried out heavy attacks upon opposition groups like Mujahideen Army which are linked to Turkey-Qatar rather than on groups like Syrian Revolutionaries Front linked to Saudi-USA, supports our argument defending that IS-Turkey partnership was not a strategic but cyclical plan put into practice in Kobani-Kurdistan. IS has been fighting against all Turkey’s allies in Syria and is downgrading them. It should also be noted that, even in its attacks against the Islamic Front which is composed of many Salafi and Ikhwanist-Salafi organizations (such as organizations linked to Kuwait, Bahreyn and Saudi Arabia) IS favors those linked to the Arab Alliance such as the Islamic Army while focusing more on those linked to Turkey-Qatar, like Tawhid Brigade. So, it should not escape attention that it carries out operations targeting to break the Turkish influence over the Islamic Front.[70] Similarly, we should not overlook  the ongoing long-term collaboration between YPG and FSA affiliated groups,  namely Tawhid Brigades, Raqqa Revolutionaries, Shams al-Shamal, Jihad fi Sabilillah which was officialized under ‘Euphrates Volcano’[71] operations room. Though weak on the battlefield, the collaboration with FSA affiliated groups- assuming FSA is a legitimate signboard which in a way represents Turkey- might be envisaged as a important channel for those who want  to help YPG but avoid direct contact with it at the same time.

On the other hand, petrol smuggling with ISIS along the border, which is claimed to prove Turkey’s collaboration with IS, is actually done not by hands of the goverment but by local people regardless of who sell it.  Indeed, it has been observed that the Turkish government initially turned a blind eye to it particularly in areas where they were politically powerful in exchange for votes but as soon as it was made known to the public, the government took certain measures and stopped it.[72]

Today Turkey has been in close contact and political alliance with Sunni-Arab tribes that act together with IS, with Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq,[73] Tariq al-Hashimi who still maintains indirect relations with IS despite all the problems he had because of being Ikhwanist[74]and Harith al-Dari who is called ‘sheikh of the revolution’ by many local organizations under IS. Turkey is probably continuing its relations with IS in an indirect way.

Particularly Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq and Harith al-Dari have a status like being informal IS spokespersons in Turkey and Arab countries. It is estimated that these ex-Baathist connections serve as intermediaries between Turkey and IS. When Turkish diplomats were kidnapped from Turkish Consulate in Mosul on June 10, 2014 until they were released on the border by IS on September 20,  initial attempts were supposedly made by the Turkish government through these intermediaries and Turkey is thought to have got into direct contact with IS upon IS’s request.

To sum up, Turkey is not following a consistent IS policy and giving IS way as long as it serves Turkey’s efforts to weaken Kurds or Assad. However, organizations which Turkey formed strategical alliance with, have been weakened by IS and as a result Turkey has lost its effect on the region to countries of the Gulf. Also, rather than finding a democratic solution to its Kurdish question Turkey invested in fall of Kobani in line with its purpose of forcing Kurds to make agreement after weakening them while on the other hand they did not want FSA and YPG to fight against each other because they aimed to make them join anti-Assad front. Turkey’s relations with IS should be assessed in this context.

Policies of the AKP government are the most influential factors determining attitude of Turkish Islamists. Until recent clashes between IS and Nusra Turkish Islamism was making statements and publications in praise of all the forces fighting against the regime in Syria including IS and was developing relations with them. But no sooner than the change in government’s policy, their favoring propaganda gave way to statements and propaganda against IS. Today, Sunni and Salafi Islamists of Turkey are in more unanimity with Islamic Front, Nusra Front and partially with FSA. Among Islamists who still support IS are only salafis with a limited number of legal organizations such as a few associations and publishing houses and IBDA members who openly support IS just because they see it principally anti-imperialistic despite their serious differences of opinion.[75]

On the other side, known as the Kurdish Hezbollah İlim movement organized under the political party Hüda-par has no organic ties with IS. Though they did not make an official statement, it is known that they declared the İlim group ‘infidels’ and ‘apostates’. However, mainly known by its anti-PKK stance in terms of its regional policies this group avoided directly criticizing IS in order not to work on PKK. They also do not hesitate to show their appreciation of the damage inflicted upon YPG by IS attacks which politically puts them on the same side with IS, even indirectly. This attitude of the movement mainly stems from their hostility towards PKK which is their raison d’être. In fact their attitude towards the ongoing was in Syria differs from that of the Turkish Islamism. Despite their occasional convergence with Islamic Front the group generally stayed in a rather passive, observing position.

2.7.   Kurds, Rojava and the Islamic State

It should not be expected for IS to head towards Turkey and Kurdistan as part of a full-scale consistent political plan before reaching its primary goal of establishing complete sovereignty over ‘Bilad al-Sham’ which they consider to be Arabic land. Indeed, although not becoming a current issue, IS is waging its real war in Arab regions against Sunni tribes, Iraqi army, Shiite Turkmens and Arabs, Syrian army and the Alawites, which they see as ‘collaborators’.  In the normal course of events and on the basis of its agenda, IS would not prefer to engage in serious clashes with Kurds and Turkey. However, as far as we learn from pro-IS websites, so far they have attacked Kurds in Iraq in order to cool off anger among its Baathist fighters against Kurds because of their alliance with the USA and also to give a message for a mistake which makes us expect more clashes in the future. Moreover, IS considers some Kurdish inhabited areas of Iraqi Kurdistan to be Arab lands. So there might be further clashes in such contentious areas too. In addition to these these reasons, Yazidism played an important role on their attacks to Shingal. This being the case, what are the reasons lying behind continuous, high-intensity attacks of IS against Rojava, Western Kurdistan? There are many reasons for IS attacks to Western Kurdistan.

1.      First of all, the model being built in Rojava is an undesirable system for global powers from all over the world as well as IS, which sees it as a threat to itself. IS thinks that unless neutralized, this model could be preferred all over the Middle East, even by its base supporters. Being experienced and prepared enough to cope with threats by modern and traditional methods of sovereignty, IS has been caught unprepared and eunexperienced against this move by PKK/PYD paradigm over the Middle East. One reason behind IS attacks is it to suppress people who are organizing under this new paradigm and discourage them from the system they have been weaving together. In fact, differences between the two worldviews reflect upon their organizational names, which must be underlined. While IS fights for and glorifies unification under a state, Rojava organizes under cantons in an effort to minimize state structures as far as possible.

2.      Islamic State wants to be the only sovereign power in Norhern Syria, along the Turkish border. This would serve a great tool of force and pressure against Turkey  for Islamic State and foreign powers behind it.  With this aim, seeing them unprotected and unsupported and at the risk of failing, IS attacked Rojava in an attempt to remove cantons standing in its way in September 2004. However, recently they have been attacking Kobani at the risk of waging a long-term war saying, ‘we will take it or there will be no return’.

3.      IS has been in clashes with all forces in the region. In addition to state regimes, IS does not let other regional organizations survive. In Syria they attacked almost all movements including Nusra, FSA and Islamic Front and seized lands under their control. In this context, attempts to downgrade YPG do not fall foul of its policies.

4.      Considering IS just IS would be mistake. Taking the USA-Israel-England sponsored Arab alliance which backs up IS into consideration, it  must be highlighted that a PKK-led grassroots movement with its current paradigm in the heart of the Middle East and a possibleTurk-Kurd alliance are two of the phenomenons least wanted by these forces. Attempts at forcing Rojava to make compromises against foreign forces through beating and intimidating it by hands of IS can also be interpreted as an attempt targeting the ongoing peace process in Turkey which is seen like a “Turk-Kurd alliance’. Here it worths to be mentioned that two prominent leaders of the Middle East, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah concurrently likened IS to Israel and condemned it to be an Israeli project.

5.      Lastly, PKK/YPG forces have been a very challenging rival for IS who initially underestimated them. A victory in Kobani would be very important to consolidate its military charisma for IS. On the other hand, international coalition’s support to Kobani after IS occupation in September 2014, has been motivating for IS to pursue its attacks.[76]


3.1.   Factors Strengthening IS in Iraq and Syria

According to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and popular wisdom, Islamic State has about eight thousand fighters in Iraq and Syria.[77] However, as a result of the recent powerful rise of IS to the world agenda, numbers about IS are sometimes exaggerated while sometimes narrowed down. We estimate that IS has about fifty thousand fighters and the number of those who join it is increasing. Is still holds a vast land  from Turkey in north and southwestern Kurdistan to Arabia and Jordan in the south, from Baghdad in the east to Aleppo under its control and continues to shadow forth its operational force. At the same time they are engaged in armed clashes in tens of areas in the north, south, east and west. Despite all those army and organization forces in addition to the recent coalition airstrikes it is not very possible yet to say that IS has been effectively downgraded. On top of all, not only from the Islamic world but from all over the world people keep joining the organization. Presumably they are representing political will of particularly Iraqi Sunnis. Data we gathered from video interviews and field researches reveals that almost half of the Sunni population of Iraq see IS as saviors while a significant number make their choice in favor of IS compared to the Iraqi government and army. So, how IS, who claims to have founded a state after removing the border between Iraq and Syria,[78] reached this power?

This question can be answered under several headings. Below is a discussion of correlation between the current power of IS and occupation of Afghanistan under the heading of historical and global factors. Also under the heading of social ties we try to shed light upon how IS made use of memories gathered by people of the region and Iraq in particular throughout near history and the history of Islam as well as the clashes. Under the last heading we are going to discuss IS’s economic character.

Historical and Global Factors

–          International interventions in the Middle East usually target limiting Islamic, particularly salafi movements rather than destroying them. In fact, numerous examples prove that movements that survive foreign interventions become stronger in the long term.

–          IS has gained a war experience of more than 30 years in Afghanistan, Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East and gets its power from voluntary fighters. So, it has got a both competent and loyal army.

–          Occupation of Iraq provided foreign fighters whose movement area narrowed in Afghanistan and Kashmir with a new field where they can exist and pursue jihad. Similarly, along with opening of the Syrian front some jihadist units in Caucasia moved to Syria and became active there.

–          Various countries including Turkey and some European countries approached to the problem of jihadist elements within their territories saying, ‘let them go and die in those places, so we can get rid of them.’ This approach further empowered IS.

–          Mostly being non-democratic and non-transparent, countries of the region from time to time grant short term support to illegal organizations in line with their national interests in a bid to control and compete each other. Western countries acted similarly regarding the issue.

–           Our field studies indicate that neoliberal policies and Islamophobia increased sympathy and participation to IS from the West.[79]

Ideological and Social Ties

–          During and after the American occupation IS formed all-round alliances with the Iraqi Baath and the social base it represents.


–          Again IS achieved to gather all reactions within the Sunni society against shaking, even demolishment of the 1000 year-old Sunni rule  under its roof.

–          Accordingly IS organized their reaction against ‘revengeful’ policies of the new ruling Shiite power against Sunnis in political and social life.  The approach in Iraqi Constitution calling for representation of people of Iraq based on their ethnic and sectarian identities has also facilitated formation of this organization.

–          Religious and sectarian tradition, historical and geographical convenience of the region for ideological sectarian wars waged by IS and existence of Shiite and Alawite forces in the ‘enemy fronts’ in Iraq and Syria can be counted among important factors. Tariditonal salafi-jihadist line has strong references in Sunni Islam sources which is intensely applied in discussions and propaganda activities aiming to organize Sunni population particularly in poor rural areas. By this means, different from the jihadist war against America like September 11 attacks, IS’s war evolved into a broad-based jihad which would yield results easily in a short time.

–           Different from other organizations in Syria IS has enabled flow of daily life in the vast areas under its control, met requirements of people living in these areas relatively cheaper and more comfortably and cared about providing social services. Similarly in Iraq they achieved to take services to people whose living conditions got harder as a result of “marginalization” policies of the government against Sunnis. For example, a taxi driver who escaped from Mosul says, “People of Mosul neither like Maliki nor IS, but they think they will at least have services like fresh water and electricity under IS rule, which means they are glad with IS.”[80]

–          It should be added that IS has recently softened its policies toward Sunni population. For example, they took a decision not to execute or even free Sunni soldiers among the ones they captured.[81]

–          Another factor that makes IS different from other organizations in the region is that they have been organizing not like a movement but exactly like a state since 2006. Rather than being an armed group or “gang”, IS has achieved to incorporate other movements and make alliances with sectarian structures.

–          IS also carries on activities to have the society act in line with its policies. In Syria and Iraq thousands of local civil servants, engineers, teachers, municipal workers and other workers-laborers work under and receive their salaries from IS which they recognize as the state. Moreover, IS promises a $5000 pay to those who catch a spy or find and report a spying activity.[82]

–          Another reason why IS could take root in the society and create such a far-reaching impact area is that they attach much importance upon communication and propaganda activities and make effective use of social media for this purpose. Propaganda and social media are equally valued like weapons on battlefield. Thus, activities, developments and attacks in areas under their control are technically processed and made ready for presentation to the world.[83] Photos and videos by IS are shared on a big social media network and on tens of websites and social media accounts, though continuosly suspended.[84]

Economic Power

–          Economic structure of IS independently deserves special analysis. As mentioned above, being of al-Qaeda origin IS make use of properties and wealth belonging to its founders and members. Besides, although not proven, they receive a big deal of money from countries of the gulf. But more important than these IS has successfully been implementing all models of primitive accumulation which gained a legal framework in neoliberal economy in the illegal field that emerged after occupation. They legitimize and base these implementations on an ancient tradition by references to practices during the expansion and conquest periods of Islam. In other words, it is essential to see that IS’s growth is based on hegemonic accumulation patterns in the world and in this sense it is an organization that occupies a place within capitalism.

–          Tactically IS primarily tries to control areas with underground and surface resources and efficiently deploys around those resources. According to estimates IS makes 3 million dollars a day on petrol under its control.[85]

–          Spoils of war are other revenues reinforcing IS’s economical infrastructure. Weapons seized during wars, great amount of money seized from banks and houses in the places they capture, money earned from sales of archeological artifacts and sales of captives and women from the areas they ‘conquer’ as slaves are other sources of money which increase both financial and symbolic power of IS.

3.2.   IS Existence Outside Iraq and Syria

Although the term Islamic State refers to areas controlled by the organization in Iraq and Syria, organizational and ideological activities of IS are not limited to Iraq and Syria. There are many active armed groups which pledged allegiance to IS and ‘Caliph Baghdadi’ in Libya, Somalia, Caucasia (Chechenia, Ingushetia, Dagestan), Tunusia, Yemen, Nigerya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Phillippines and Indonesia. Despite lacking vast areas of sovereignty as in Iraq and Syria these groups are capable of carrying out effective armed attacks.[86]

Recent control of the port city of Derne, Libya by IS in November 2014 is a significant development.[87] City of Derne is just 350 sea miles away from the island of Creta of EU member Greece. In a voice message on 14 November, Baghdady said, “”O Muslims, we give you good news by announcing expansion of the Islamic State to new lands, the lands of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Algeria. Groups in these countries left their local names and joined to the emirate and our best men took positions in these places.”[88]

Moreover, Muslim countries being in the first place, in many countries like Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran and Europe IS gets organized without armed activities. After Iraq Saudi Arabia is supposedly the second country where IS has the most grassroot support. Increasing sympathy of the society for IS causes unrest in the Saudi Arabian regime.[89]

3.3.            IS and anti-IS International Coalition

Although having violated redlines by executing western journalists and threatening South Kurdistan, IS has yielded more benefits than damages for the Western and Arab world since al-Qaeda period. Being a factor that legitimizes any intervention in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq and Syria at any time is a sufficient reason for the coalition to turn a blind eye to IS existence. Through interventions on grounds of IS coalition, forces consolidate their existence in the Middle East, protect their interests and shape the region and regional forces according to their interests.

For example, IS was previously found necessary to force Iran and Hezbollah to make concessions in general and Baghdad and Damascus in particular. Today they take advantage of IS again to force PKK, which is powerfully getting on the stage in the Middle East, and even Turkey make concessions. We think that the recent international coalition formed against IS does not plan to destroy but limit it and show off.

From another point of view, recent attacks which raised IS to the world’s agenda can be seen as an attempt by IS to incur USA intervention. An attack targeting the Islamic State led by “Caliphate” by the USA which is considered to be an imperialist, invading enemy of Islam, as experienced before, would raise a lot of symphaty for IS in the Arab-Islam world no matter how much military loss it inflicts. In fact, Islamist groups made statements announcing that they stopped clashes with IS right after the coalition airstrikes began. Sheikh al-Maqdisi, a prominent sheikh of the Salafi world who used to criticize IS harsly before said after t, “Whatever we had before is over now. We can’t stay silent against attacks by Crusaders. Blood of the state (IS) shed is our blood, their honor is our honor. We are ready to fight on the state lines in this war.”[90] Following the airstrikes targeting Kafr Derian area under Nusra control, said to be targeting the Khorasan Group by USA, a group gathered in the bombed area chanted the slogan, ‘People want the Islamic State’ which should not suprise anybody.[91] Again, many Sunni Arab tribes that stayed neutral before the coalition airstrikes are expected to agree with and pledge allegience to IS.[92] Just for this purpose videos of coalition airstrikes hitting IS are proudly being released into circulation by IS itself.

3.4.   Women and IS

One of the main factors that lead to worldwide reaction against IS is its brutal acts of pressure, rape, kidnapping, killings and enslavement against women. In fact such acts are oficially acknowledged and praised by IS. For example, in the 4th issue of IS’s official media organ DABIQ magazine, enslavement of women ‘for any service’ including sexual purposes, is openly and widely treated and defended by various arguments in the person of enslaved Yazidi women.[93]  Even, Islamic community is criticized for forgetting this ‘religious duty’ and  ‘revivial this important practice’ by IS was blessed and defined as a sacred effort. Again in the same magazine, it was stated that these women were shared according to Sharia law and that they were not sold by ‘the state’ but by their “owners” who were granted the absolute right to sell or present them. While being given to their “new owners” women with children were not separated from them. Though not differing in their religious approaches to the issue[94], Nusra Front critizes this IS tactically. Nusra commander Sheikh Qahtani made a statement regarding the subject; “May God damn those lecherous ones who enslave women while not having the power to protect and defend Sunni women in the region! Will Yazidis abstain from revenge in case the Iraqi army enters Mosul tomorrow?  Our Sunni women will pay the price for practices of these lecherous people.”[95]

Though behaving cruel in their acts against female members of groups they see as “enemy”, contrary to the common belief, IS attracts intense positive reaction from women in their areas of influence. Women members and supporters of IS have been overlooked so far because IS associates war and war brings its male fighters to the mind, it is perceived only as a fighting military force and its historical, religious, ideological and social bases are not analyzed properly and also women are invisible in IS’s gender regime no matter how active they are. Only women who left their status of an “ordinary European citizen” behind and joined IS have attracted attention until today.

For example, a tweet by a female British citizen Khadijah Dare who joined IS and married to a Swedish IS fighter attracted attention of international community. Her tweet reads, “I want to become the first British woman to kill a British or American terrorist.”[96] But women magazines, women and family institutions or female police force of IS al-Khansaa have never raised interest. On the other hand, it was found so interesting when Aqsa Mahmood, a Scottish woman who left home to join IS and married to an IS fighter, became the head of female police force of Raqqa, Khansaa Brigade. The issue of IS and women is brought to agenda only when a Western woman is the case.[97] However these women are not exceptions. It is hard to give the exact number of women who joined IS but researches by European institutions give the number as 60 from the UK, over 100 from France and about 40 German.[98] [99] Also participation of women from Muslim world is said to be much more than from Europe. In this context, stories about couples with children and women who left their husband behind  to pledge allegiance and move to lands under IS control had media coverage.[100]

Looking from outside, usually male reverends and followers of religious communities are visible though their female followers and members outnumber men. The situation is no different for IS. Based on our individual interviews and data from pro-IS websites we can talk about thousands of women who joined IS individually or with their children (with or without husbands). However, they do not find place in IS statistics since they are not ‘active warriors’. That’s why we cannot share net statistical figures. However, it can be said that most IS fighters are married to voluntary women called ‘jihadist brides’ and that a considerable number of women join IS from outside despite lack of relatively proper conditions in terms of financial or transport opportunities. Also, throughout the Muslim-Arab lands women who approve of IS’s religious and political approach and who show sympathy for the movement are dominant in the social base. Moreover,  the fact that social media accounts which very actively make propaganda of IS mostly belong to women indicate that women ‘exist’ as numerous as men do.

Here, importance of social media, considered as ‘a blessing of the time’ by some and ‘armament with enemy’s weapon’ by  IS needs to be pointed out. One of our women interviewees says that in the past jihadist women used to watch jihad fronts only from afar with envy  and carry on limited activities although today they are participate actively and can find better opportunities to actively become a part of jihad due to two reasons. Firstly, IS is a ‘state’ in control of wide lands where social life goes on and women and families enjoy a safe and sustainable living space. The second reason is that, unlike in the past when people organized and participated only through personal connections, today social media is commonly used for such purposes.

Finally, one should keep in mind that women have been the most mistreated members of the society since invasion of Iraq and the Syrian civil war. Glorification of the status of a jihadist bride as well as organization of the social life through women by IS give women weakened, made visible and objectified by war and hollow capitalization through daily sexism, the opportunity to become actors and make them become the subject of their lives again.[101]


Handling the global effect of the Islamic State within the context of recent history and mapping its organizational capacity and social alliances within this framework falls short of explaining how they have been so influential in such a wide area, how they directed controversies and clashes all over the Middle East and how they managed to make people from many parts of Syria and Iraq, who had never been militants before, both perpetrators and victims of massacres. How come has IS gained its current status despite turning numerous ethical values of humanity upside down, inflicting all sorts of violence which is tried to be made invisible in the modern world and undertaking all those acts defined as ‘barbarous’ ? What is the social terrain upon which IS gains social legitimization? How have they managed to involve a wide basis of perpetrators in this legitimized status? What historical sources do they refer to while raising such intense feelings and what current factors do they apply to stimulate desire? Ideological and subjective attachment as well as belonging processes need to be analyzed in an attempt to find answers to these questions and better understand IS’s current success.

For this purpose, we are going to discuss how historical sediments and deep memories of clashes that emerged during spread and empowerment of Islam throughout the Middle East made IS into as force and capacity of the jihadist Salafi tradition of IS to influence and mpbilize Sunni people at the cost of making too much generalization in the first part of the section below.

Before that we need to open a paranthesis here. Needless to say; IS does not have monopoly over Salafism in the Middle East and Salafism did not have to take the current form it took under IS. Also, whatever ideological maneuver it had been, Salafism could not have left its minority status in Iraq and Syria behind and become such a mass movement so quickly depending on its self-power.

Sectarian policies of both the Syrian and Iraqi regimes played a significant rol on this massification the movement. Getting organized under sectarian policies of Maliki and Assad, opposition movements defined themselves enemies to the Shiite (in Iraq) and Alawite (in Syria) identities of the regimes and gathered under the roof of jihadist Salafi tradition. Among all salafi movements, IS salafism differs in making a holistic promise that goes beyong national geographies, dreaming of a separate geography and promising a new future with reference to the golden age of Islam for the oppressed Muslims. IS has succeeded this ideological integrity by virtue of mobilization of past memories (historical) of conquest and enslavement within the war culture (local) of the Islamic tradition and enemization (political) that will make it possible to gather very different complaints in a single bag which will be approved by everybody. Discourses and practices of IS articulate everyday hatred stemming from being oppressed  into a great tale of revenge and achieve to transform the history of despair dating back to colonializm into an everyday hatred toward a fixed target. In an infinite dimensional equation of oppression/blasphemy=Assad= Alawite=collaborator=America=Shiite=Maliki=Iran=Hezbollah, IS is making the contemporary chaos of the Middle East and various historical and cultural diversities easily legible and comprehensible enough to take a stand against and thus becoming popular.

In the second part of this section we are going to discuss the IS wind in the Middle East based on African analyses of the last ten years. The fact that the oppressed could not make the modern western societies into their homes was impounded by various formations which IS Salafism has formed a strong affinity with. For instance, like the Middle East, Africa has also passed through similar civil wars since 1980s. Genocides, massacres, primitive forms of accumulation, global networks, rape and gangs played important roles during these civil wars. Although some of these wars can be discussed based on tribalism and ethnicity, experiences of violence and pornography require an analysis of different forms of analythic tools along with different forms of power, identity and subjectivitity imposed by late period capitalism. Below we are going to use a similar narration in the Middle Eastern context. This will make an analysis of IS as a global case and outcome of colonializm and neoliberalizm possible. No doubt, this narraton needs to be elaborated and developed with further in-depth analyses.

4.1 Ideological-Religious References of IS, Islam and the Islamic State

Throughout the history, power has always eliminated and manipulated oppositional potential of common values of humanity which it considered as a threat to its existence, in line with its own interests . Just as science became a tool in the hands of power and lost its freedom and originality and scienticism somewhat became the source of contemporary iconism imposed upon humanity, in the hands of power, religion also lost its essence and religious exploitation began to represent beliefs and history of religion began to be written by religious exploitation which can be defined as ‘counter-religion’ . As the name implies, ‘Islamic State’  has become the power, Islam departed from experiences of the oppressed and became a state which represents the counter-Islam movement. However, it should be kept in mind that this counter-religious tradition does not constitute a ‘marjinal’ place but emerges as sovereign and prevalent within the history and world of Islam. In this regard, one cannot say that IS has brought a new interpretation or practice of Islam which opposes the general understanding and source of Islam. Indeed, IS is welcomed wherever it reaches from Chechenia to the Balkans, from Afghanistan to Sudan, because it does not contradicst the traditional and state-centered Islamic narrations. Especially, memories of Islamization of today’s so called world of Islam (similar to the Christian one) through conquests enables making sense of IS’s conquering mentality and participation in it. That is to say, IS is not a phenomenon to be eliminated by simply saying, “this is not Islam”. Fight against IS requires rewriting of the history of Islam from the viewpoint of the oppressed.

The discussion below does not aim to develop an essentialist approach but to unfold the nature practices and impact areas of IS might take unless a significant social and ideological opposition is developed.

4.1.1 Salafi Sunnizm

As the term ‘Sunnizm’ took a more general meaning including other sects after formation and institutionalization of sects, Salafis adopted the term ‘Sunni Salafi’ to describe themselves. Salafis are also known as ‘ahl al-hadith’.

Meaning ‘predecessors’ or ‘foregoers’, its members believe under ‘Salafism’ one can practise Islam by simply looking at lives and every day practices of the prophet, caliphs (the first three) and their friends (sahaba and tabieen). In other words, Salafis take  sources generated and practised after the prophet as reference rather than the essential source of Islam (Koran). Although not as dominantly as Salafism does, the general Islamic approach also takes the same sources and basis as references. We can also say what is known as the history of Islam is actually the history of this tradition.

Considering all the others ‘infidels’ and their blood, property and women halal (legitimate) to themselves,  treating all inhabitants of the areas they ‘conquer’ as captives, enslaving men and taking women as handwomen, performance of the right to rape, sell or give women captives away as presents and declaring the slightest diverse opinion even within their groups as infidelity- seeing it as a reason for profanity and declaring owner of the opinion as apostate- executing the ones they declared apostates, the Muslims who do not perform prayers, torturing, stoning them to death and tens of other practices which can be defined as crimes against humanity have legitimate basis in many Islamic sources  including mutabar (respected)and sahih (proved to be correct)Sunni sources from Sahih al-Bukhari-Muslim to Musnad and Islamic history from the Umayyads to the Ottoman Empire. In other words Salafis are not broken off the Islamic sources, on the contrary they lay claim on Islam which became power as a whole.

It  also should be pointed out that the emergence of different sects did not stem from simple different interpretations but political controversies. Though Sunnism/Salafism and Shiism/Alawism are usually handled in terms of differences between approaches, interpretations or sides, those who fought and expressed themselves on Muawiya and Yazid’s side formed Sunnism/Salafism while those who fought and expressed themselves on Ali and Hussein’s side formed Shiism/Alawism. Sunnism and Salafism have come from a tradition that developed, spreaded and set its attitudes and policies and became socialized based on anti-Alawism.  Additionally, Salafism is harsh against non-Arab sufism and religious cults. That is why they bomb and destroy shrines and shrines with tombs. That is to say, jihadist Salafism, just like other similar identities, feeds upon antagonism, exists and reproduces itself through otherization.

Salafism represents the conveying tradition of the religion rather than its rationalistic tradition. It is never about reasoning, questioning, thinking, understanding and concentration on religious issues. Whatever conveyed is true and meaning is just superficial and formal. Therefore, not only Alawism and Sunnism but also ‘rationalistic’ and ‘Koranistic’ approaches have been primary targets of Salafis throughout history. Reasoning, comparison, and expressing opinion, in other words using one’s mind is considered an evil act. Absolute devotion is a must. Just like the general sovereign Islamic tradition, Salafis also say, ‘Islam is submission/surrender.’ However, in its full and foremost sense, means ‘peace’.[102]

No doubt,  we cannot say that IS completely depends on an absolute Sunni-Salafi tradition. Similar to every individual/social mentality and character, there are many factors determining mindset of IS. To give an example, Nusra Front is also Salafi as well as the Islamic Front and the Islamic State. Also there are other Salafi approaches like the Nour Party of Egypt which established a party and stood for elections. There exist different tones of Salafism. Just like the internal and external factors which led to Nusra- IS clashes, different factors lead to these different tones of Salafim. Salafism of which region, which political past and which society that an individual comes from? Salafism of what sort of relationships and which period or era? Answers to all these questions are considerably important. Urban Salafism or rural Salafism, desert Salafism or mountain or wetland Salafism coming from a green area, Salafism of an area with rich meat-eating habits or an area with poorer meat-eating habits because of climatic conditions? All these factors which have effects upon all areas of life, human and societies should also be taken into consideration while discussing IS. For example, the fact that Kurds are mostly of the Shafi and Turks are mostly of the Hanafi sect has a historical importance for studies and discussions on the Kurdish question. However, this fact gives us clues about reasons why number of Kurds who joined IS is bigger than Turks. Similarly, Turkish Salafis and Islamists show more interest in joining the Nusra Front than Kurdish Salafis an Islamists. Undoubtedly, contemporary politics plays a role in this but the dominating factors leading to such separate attitudes are more about reflections of historical and sectarian interactions of Shafi and Hanafi cultures with Salafism upon today.

It should be kept in mind that that Salafism is a movement that requires inetense religious motivation. Such religious motivation and sensitivity usually finds reciprocity rather in poorer sectors of the society or rural areas. With this regard, we can say that generally  Salafism  and IS in particular are movements mostly constituent of Muslim working classes of the world,and of the Islamic world in particular.

In the light of the discussion above, factors lying behind ideological spread of IS salafizm can be given under the following topics:

–          Salafism, which is the dominant in various Islamist movements, have been transformed into a single roof that incorporates very different complaints, different forms of oppression and hatred by IS.

–          IS Salafism has become a means of establishing a historical identity with reference to the past and also a rebellion against the West and its human rights discourse which is accused of being double-faced. They also achieved to draw a map that easily separates people of the Middle Eastern lands which became much more complicated by civil wars and invasions, as enemies and friends or the real devotees of religion and the apostates.

–          Declaring the Alawites and the Sunnis enemies, they achieved mobilization in daily life as well as creating enemies for people who feel weak against combat vehicles of the Western world. Now the enemy is more accessible to take revenge upon.

–          Salafi claim over Islamic power makes it more authentic and local as well as promising the power for the oppressed.

–          Also IS allocates lands and resources it seizes by means of massacres and forced emigration among its supporters which can be seen as another reason why people pledge allegience to it.

–          Lastly, devotion and motivation required by IS Salafism have been very effective ways of creating partisan and militants communities.

4.3. IS and Violence

As mentioned above, during 1990s and beginning of 2000s Africa passed through times of war and violence which far surpass the violence in contemporary Middle East. According to Achille M’membe who carried out significant studies on Africa, state mechanism with underlying policies of violence combined with neoliberalism lost its power and legitimacy when it withdrew from economy and eliminated its social features and evolved into a structure which maintained its existence by means of acts of violence through the police, army and judicial powers.

State’s deprivation of its past functions and gradual increase of its practices of violence and security made it into an entity that could easily be imitated. For example, al-Qaeda’s  register system in 1980s made it a state-like which was followed by the twin towers attacks at the beginning of 2000s which enabled it the power and mystery of a state.

Meanwhile, privatization of the resources led to formation of and clashes between the groups joining global networks in order to get their shares. Oil wells and mining areas became settings for clashes among economical and political networks established by international companies-war lords-deep states and local actors. Particularly, wars and clashes which became attractive and magical activities for the youth led to emergence of tens of quasi-states  that try to accumulate capital through violence and sovereignty in a bid to  imitate the state.  Unlike the Middle East, in Africa these quasi-states did not fall apart due to religious or ideological reasons but through their tribal identities. Nevertheless, the number of forces fighting against each other at the cost of their lives as if they were gambling was increasing day by day in Africa, which is no different in the Middle East today. Gaining authority over the others, consolidation of manhood by means of forcing especially women to submit, and becoming genuine subjects  in the heart of big shows where everything including life, money, lands or any other living or non-living beings, are being exploited, were among benefits to be gained from such a war. This was the only way they could forge ahead by means of spending, exploiting and being exploited in their competition with the Western modernization which they started behind.

Independently of the actual reasons and socio-political actuality of the African war one point attracts attention; challenge to death and civilization by these men who overstep the moral and logical limits of the Western civilization, the delight they take in transcending those limits, the power they produce and their fascination. Their fascination on one hand stems from imitating neoliberalism’s addiction to fast and consumption-based gambling, its finance markets, primitive forms accumulation while on the other getting hold of and imitating the state violence they were exposed to as a result of colonialism. In this manner, what needs to be considered is that the violence in the Middle East, which we discuss attributing to IS, is not independent of this social psychology . In this regard, we can associate the violence in the Middle East which is getting Africanized with two points.

Firstly, the Middle Eastern territory has been marked by violence since the beginning of the last century. The fact that history of sovereignty has been directly written by violence has led to naturalization of the relationship established with violence by people of the region in general and by men in particular. However, this violence has always been under monopoly of the western countries. Along with the civil wars that began after the Iraqi invasion and Syrian revolution, numerous quasi-state organizations with international ties appeared around areas with natural resources and took hold of the control of violence.  Secondly, considering supposedly the thousands participating from Europe, it is obvious that those coming from the most exploited corners of neoliberal world, namely from the experiences of poverty and discrimination; those deprived of their subjectivities, are filling the spaces with brutal practices of violence. Murders and massacres they committed earn them a mythological character which make them feel that they contribute to the destroyed magic of the world. Maybe common myths which decribe them as bewitched or high on drugs stem from realization of this bare fact.

Violence is of a contagious nature and can be imitated. Unfortunately, this feeling of magic and transcendence disseminated from organizations/groups acquired through violence seem to have become a reality of the world. Europe has been trying hard to keep this epidemic of violence off its territory with a feeling of uneasiness. It is very urgent for the Middle East to create alternative ways of magic, desire and subjectivity against this current magic that manifests itself through violence and becomes a state or ruling force with reference to ancient history. In other words, they need to understand and transform this imagination of a new world which is expressed through Salafi jihadism and IS practices.


Another factor why we need to understand IS is that struggling against political-social circumstances that gave birth to IS and its mentality is equally as important as the urgent need of a military struggle to stop it. Although its military capabilities might be weakened or its de facto  domination might be broken, IS should not be considered solely composed of a military unit that can be destroyed.  Silence of bullets and bombs would mean no more than a break to the hot war while social crisis would continue effecting all spheres of life and evolve into a cold war. A model perspective to bring freedom and equality in all areas, as well as providing fair, natural and sharing local alternatives stands as the most urgent vital need of the people of the Middle East. Even social basis of IS and other similar organizations have been victims of lack of such a model in the Middle East where has been exposed to the heaviest attacks in the history and whose folks, communities and nature turned into ruins.

SAMER is planning to organize meetings under three headings for a healthy and extensive discussion of the IS reality. This texts is supposed to provide to set framework for those meetings.

1.      Political Actors of the Middle East and Their Relations

International powers have always played roles in all wars of the Middle East. Similarly, the Arab, Turkish and Persian states which have always been in competition for hegemony over the region have been shaping hot and cold contacts and forming alliances with international powers. It needs to be discussed what forms such alliances took in numerous fronts opened by IS in various areas, particularly in Kobani, during the Syrian war. Such alliances are formed in economical, political and social areas which  from time to time become incompatible among themselves. A fight to be developed against IS requires a systematic and detailed analysis of these alliances.

Another topic to be mentioned is that there is an observable, serious tactical affinity between the Islamic State and Israel. Two prominent leaders of the Middle East, PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan and Hezbollah Leader Hasan Nasrallah synchronously stated that they saw parallelisms between the IS and Israel and claimed that IS was an Israeli project, which worth to be shared in this context.[103] IS’s idea of the promised land based on religion and its practices like destruction or forced migration of those who are not like them, construction of a religious identity and invitation of those who pledged allegiance to this new identity to the seized lands and representing themselves as an unbeatable, mysterious power,  all bear resemblance to the emergence, growth and socialization of the Israeli state. Also, foundation of Israil following the World War II according to the project of the western countries in an attempt to both control the Middle East and  “get rid of” all the Jews at once coincides with their using IS to get rid of radical Muslims and discipline the Middle East. Therefore, not only direct but indirect aspects of the Israil-IS relations should be brought into question and discussed with new methods.

2.      Social Base and Organization of IS

The achieved social base of IS needs to be analyzed as a whole and certain surface contradictions should be attributed social and historical meanings. On one hand, the hostile attitude displayed against women by IS has urged many women from various areas including Afghanistan, to get organized against jihadist movements like IS. On the other hand, as mentioned above women occupy a significant place in the social base that IS depends on. These two realities need to be explained at the same time in a meaningful way. Again, how do organizational structure of IS and its sense of community based on tribes comply with the desire to established a systematic state? What are the daily practices ahat reconcile them? To whom and in what way IS open new spaces of expression and what kind of political and social identities do they provide? Through what global, regional and local communal relations  do they grow up?

From a different viewpoint, provision of public services in the areas it controls is a very significant factor that helped IS to gain ground. Studies to conceptualize the relationship between services, violence and democracy should be held as soon as possible.

In relation to that, ın studies held with Yazidis who were forced to migrate, they say that their Arab and Sunni Kurdish neighbours also participated in massacres of IS. What sort of daily discriminative practices and meaning maps urged these people to take part in massacres against their neigbours? What sort of power or leaderhip positions made such massacres possible?

3.      Ideology and Identity in the Middle East 

IS cannot be understood independently of the history of capitalism and nation-state. It must be born in mind that fascist attempts all over the world are usually made aftermath of great liberty-seeking movements. It is not coincidental that emergence of IS followed the revolutionary Arab movements . Kurdish and Arab movements in the region uprose against monist national identities, neoliberal policies and state pressures. However, governments took hold of the actuality disclosed by this revolutionary pursuit to tame them. The new identity, state, economy that  IS intends to establish and memories that it mobilize should be studied in this context.  Comparison of Kobani resistance to the Stalingrad resistance is also not a coincidence. On one hand there are Freedom Movements rising against states in favor of cohabitation and self-government of folks through democratic methods while on the other hand stands IS mentality which absolutizes state and identity through destructions and massacres; what is more, they mutually challenge each other depending on the experiences they accumulated through their non-state organizational activities and clashes since the end of 1970s.

In our opinion IS has taken hold of the ethical actuality disclosed by Arab revolutions just as the Nazi regime did, and has tried to destroy their desire for equality, freedom and democracy  by converting them into its rule. Indeed, with its influence upon the global jihadist movement it inflicted heavy damages upon resistance of the oppressed Muslim people in places like Bosnia, Kashmir, Chechenia. Disregarding the natural, historical and cultural sensitivies and colours of the region and even siding against them, jihadists  caused movements  in these areas to lose legitimacy of their rightful struggle in their people’s eyes as well as in the international arena by means of eliminating, damaging, unrecognizing and dissenting them. [104] Also, political, social and particularly ideological-religious factors which led to emergence and growth of IS need to be properly analyzed. IS mentality has already permeated the society, history, politics, time and space in such a multi-dimensional way that it cannot be destroyed by conventional understandings and military methods of ‘combat against terror’. Success in the fight against IS and forces behind it cannot be achieved by means of deductionist approaches but by means of recognizing and understanding  its true reality and accordingly carrying out military, political, social and ideological projects in a coordinated manner. In this sense fight against IS can be regarded as a historic opportunity, because undertstanding IS means understanding the Middle East and its history.

Writer : Mohammad Jihad  Abrari             Adviser: Nazan Ustandag


[1] Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS, ISIL or DAESH.

[2] Ahmad, Akbar; Postmodernism and Islam; London: Routledge; 1992

[3] The war fought between ‘mujahids’ and the Soviets, lasting from December 27, 1979 to February 15, 1989. The war started when the leftist government of Afghanistan which was in trouble called for USSR intervention. In the end the Soviets had to withdraw and a civil war started among “mujahids”.

[4] Koranic term ‘jihad’ actually refers to a general expression of struggle, striving in all areas, especially in political and social areas. However, in sovereign Islam ‘jihad’ is considered equivalent to ‘qital’ which means fighting. A ‘jihadist’ is a person who believes in the holy aim of making Islam the only rule throughout the world and that the only path leading to absolute rule of Islam is to ‘jihad’, which means to fight a war.

[5] Sunni-Shiite controversy emerged following Prophet Mohammad’s death in 632.

[6] Organization of public opposition and political power around Islamism in the Middle East, inclusion of the Middle East as whole in an Islamic definition cannot be held independently of the history of nation state and capitalism. Massacres and forced migration of non-Muslim communities by nation states like Turkey, the Muslim-Jewish tensions that started by foundation of Israel and the following migration of Jewish Arabs to Israel played important roles in homogenization of the Middle East. Despite that, from the beginning of the century on public opposition movements organized under leftist roofs and expressed themselves through the leftist discourse until 1980s (see Prashad, Visjay “Anatomy of the Islamic State,” The Marxist XXX 3 July-September 2014). Briefly, in narrations of the modern history, rather than its Islamic character, Islamization of the Middle East needs to be mentioned.

[7] The fact that Sunni tradition is more pro-power and dominant sect of sovereign Islam and significance of Sunni/Arab attitude against Shiite/Persian policies can be named among the main factors in historical partnerships with Sunni-Arabs,.

[8] Looking from this perspective, we can say that PKK, despite the paradigmatic changes they made after critical approaches to real socialism, is the only movement in that achieved to become socialized, stay leftist while continuing to gain strength in the Middle East.

[9] ??? ???????? ???? ?????? ????  –

[10] Hedefteki adam: Usame bin Ladin –

[11] Emin Demirel, “Ölüm Arabaları”, İstanbul: IQ Yayıncılık, 2004, s. 26.

[12] Founded by Hasan al Bannah in 1928, Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) is a political and social movement well-organized in most Islam-Arab countries. The movement influenced many Islamist leaders. Ikhwanism and Salafist-Wahhabism are two conflicting Islamist movements due to their ideological and political stances. Especially Arab countries which are under rule of Wahhabism and monarchies/emirates consider the Ikhwan movement as a threat to themselves. While Ikhwan defends a grassroots political Islamic movement, Wahhabism defends a top-down sharia rule. Arab leaders who are able to stay in power through emirates and kingdoms avoid recognizing a political Islamic grassroots movement. Ikhwanist movement formed alliances with Turkish Islamism and Turkish government during the Ak Party rule, with Qatar which has a distinctive place among Arab regimes and occasionally with Iran depending on the conditions.

[13]  ?????? ??????? ?????? ??????? ????   –

[14] ‘Qaeda’ comes from the Arabic qaf-ayn-dal root and means rule, principal, formula or path.

[15] The fierce war was fought from 22 September 1980 to 20 August 1988 between Iraq which was led by Saddam Hussein who received all kinds of support, including chemical weapons from Sunni-Arab countries and some European states and Iran, which was led by Imam Khomeini who had no support except from Kurds. At the end of the war both sides declared victory against each other.

[16] Residents of Afghanistan and Pakistan who speak the Pashto language.

[17] Still persisting in thousands of madrasahs in India and Pakistan, Deobandism is named after the town of Deoband, Delhi, where it was founded in 1866 by Rashid Ahmed Gangohi and Mohammed Qasim Nanautawi.

[18] Approaches of Hanafi scholars to an issue or incidence (fatwa) or their interpretations of it (ijtihad) as well as Islamic theoretical or practical applications.

[19] Ahl al-Hadith means people of hadith, those who support and follow hadith (Prophet Mohammad’s sayings/deeds).  The ‘Ahl ar-Ray’ line is against interpretations, they are closed to personal interpretations of Islamic theory or practices, defending hadiths are enough for this. Salafis are ahl al-hadith.

[20] Sufism is believed to the inner and spiritual side of Islam. It is said to be the effect of mysticism on Islam.

[21] Salafism is to be more elaborately discussed under the heading, “Ideology and Identity in the Islamic State.”

[22] Today al-Shabaab (The Youth) is an al-Qaeda organization actively operative in Somalia.

[24] Usame Bin Ladin Biyografisi –

[25] ??? ????? ????? ?? ????   –

[26] Transcript of President Bush’s address –

[27] Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over

[28] Military units tied to components of the overthrown government that against Taliban regime.

[29] Ba’athism is a political ideology which brings Arab nationalism and Arab socialism together. Developed by Michel Aflaq this political thought became a political party in 1940. By far, particularly in Iraq and Syria, where they seized power, they have gone through various changes, eliminations and separations. In its program the Ba’ath Party defends ‘unity (Arab), liberty and socialism (in a single country)’.

[30] 4 Temmuz’un üç generali neden emekliye sevk edildi?

[31] Path to aspiring after such a leadership passes through siding against Israel. For this aim, in 1991 Saddam Hussein, though at a symbolic rate attacked Israel with Scud missiles and  embraced Palestinians. Iraqi Ba’ath regime hosted thousands of Palestinian refugees and al-Fetih militants.

[32] The war waged by the Arab-Islam army near the city of Kufa, Iraq with purpose of taking Iran during the period of Caliph Omar. Today IS also calls the war they wage against the Shiites and Alawites as ‘Qadissiya’.

[33]Saddam Hussein: “mon ennemi c’est plus l’Iran que les Etats-Unis”

[34] “İran’a dikkat edin, asıl düşmanınız odur” –

[35] It was founded in 1998 after breaking away from the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. Centered in Halabja, the organization carried out political-military activities against PUK and KDP. Attacks on Kurdish areas are usually are directed by Kurdish IS members coming from Ansar ul-Islam. e.g.

[36] Source: Field studies held in Iraq, interviews made with members of al-Qaeda of Iraq and Ansar ul-Islam.

[37] Former names of the IS: Though unannounced before 2004 it was known as ‘Iraqi al-Qaeda’. Tawhid and Jihad- 2004, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia- 2005, Mujahideen Shura Council-2006, Islamic State of Iraq (or Emirate) -2006, Islamic State of Iraq and Sham-2013, Islamic State (IS) 2014.

[38] Coalition Military Fatalities By Year in Operation Iraqi Freedom –

[39] Shiite Islamic Sadr Movement, which resisted against the Saddam regime for long years, maintained a clear stance against Iraqi invasion, too. Getting successful results in elections, the movement played an important role in Iraq’s divergence from the USA axis and convergence to Iran. In June 2014, the movement announced that they would establish a new military unit under the name Salaam/Peace Brigades, separate from the Mahdi Army. Muqtada al-Sadr is leads the movement.

[40] Third president of Egypt who was assassinated in 1981 by members of Islamic Jihad Movement of Egypt. He was succeeded by his deputy Hosni Mubarak.

[41] A movement that was started and led mostly by imprisoned Ikhvan members after Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhvan) in 1970 announced that they would give up with violence and continue their activities in the legal field. The movement made name more in 1980s.

[42] Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which carries out activities in Sinai Peninsula between Egypt and Palestine, with its members of Islamic Jihad of Egypt, sworn allegiance to the IS.

[43] El Cezire – ABD’nin son Irak pişmanlığı –

[44] Geographer Derk Gregory explains how this sectarianization is performed with numerous diverse examples.

[45] Washington Institute / El Kaide’nin IŞİD’i Reddetmesi Ne Demek?

[46] One of the most prominent members of the Shura/Council Haji Bakr was killed in Aleppo rural by Tawhid Brigades that have links with Turkey. Also seizing Haji Bakr’s wife and children during this attack. Tawhid Brigade later handed them over to IS reportedly upon directives of the Turkish government because of a political bargain over seized Turkish diplomats. (

[47] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Islamic State’s driving force –

[48] ??? ??? ??????????? ????? ?? «?????? ?????????

[49] The Islamic State: How Its Leadership Is Organized –

[50] “Islamischer Staat” im Irak: Saddams Tochter wird Terrorpatin       saddam-husseins-sponsert-islamisten-a-988581.html

[51] This aim is to get stronger in areas like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and establish overall sovereignty in the Levant area which is called ‘Bilad al-Sham’ by the help of western collaborators and fight against Shiite-Alawite powers.

[52] ?????? ???????? – ????? ????                      

[53] ??? ???? ????????.. ?????? ??????? ?????      

[57] The War between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement

[58] According to the information we got from sources of the organizations we follow, about three thousand fighters from the sides are estimated to  be killed during IS’s attacks against Nusra and the Islamic Front.

[59] The document published by a suspended IS twitter account revealing arms delivery to YPG by a Nusra component, Raqqa Revolutionaries;

[60] A picture published by IS revealing YPG-Nusra meeting in Afrin;

[61] Document revealing the ceasefire agreement signed by Nusra, Islamic Front and FSA components under the name Ahl al-Sham’ with YPG;

[62] IS fighters threatening Nusra, Islamic Front and FSA and declaring them infidels-

[63] Being in a quest to become an active actor in both in the Gulf and the Middle East, Qatar has always been in competition with the Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia. In many areas of the Middle East where such competition is observed, Qatar occasionally takes common action with the Ikhwan-Turkey line.

[64] Although it finds Turkey-Ikhwan line risky, Iran still prefers it to the Arab alliance. In fact they took a clear stand against overthrow of Morsi even before Turkey.-

[65] Regarding the Kobani issue, it is a common view that Turkey supports IS which we will discuss ahead. Turkey’s support to IS needs to be handled together with Turkey’s anti-Assad and anti-Kurd policies.

[66] For further details on the issue see, IŞİD ve Benzerlerine Dair  /  Seda Altuğ  –

[69] ??? ?????? ???? ?????? –

[70] It is not very possible to say such attempts by IS yielded results. Relations with Turkey are still dominant within the Islamic Front.

[73] AMSI has had strong ties with formal and Islamist institutions for a long time. They conducted many meetings in Turkey. Carrying on activities in IS-controlled areas and seeing IS as a revolutionary force they define areas controlled by IS as ‘liberated areas’.

[74] He was the leader of Islamic Party and Vice President of Iraq in 2006. When the Iraqi government sued him for supporting terrorism he took refuge in Turkey in 2010. He was sentenced to death and he is on Interpol’s wanted list.

[75] An organization led by Salih Mirzabeyoğlu, IBDA adopts “the Great East” ideology put forward by Necip Fazıl Kısakürek and aims foundation of a federal İslamic State. Fundamentally coming from a sectarian and sufi tradition  it is a movement against salafism. However, they establish intimacy with IS based on their anti-Shiite-Alawite and anti-Westerni, Sunni stance.  IBDAists had also supported Saddam with the same attitude and declared him ‘the great martyr of Islam’.

[76] Following coalition airstrikes started IS fighters in Kobani say that they once again understood how right the path they took was and how necessary their attacks to Kobani were.

[78] The Islamic State (Vice News)  –

[82] İD Şii askerleri infaz edip Sünnileri serbest bıraktı;

[83] According to reports from our interviews, IS has a special media office for Turkey and Kurdistan. They carry out informational activities about Turkey and Kurdistan via the media office in Raqqa.

[84] Ruşen Çakır’s article ‘Bir PR Başarısı Olarak (IŞ)İD’ Haberturk daily;

[85] ????? ?????? ????????? ???? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ????? –

[86] For example, Boko Haram, which carries out activities control some regions in Nigeria, is tied to IS. An operation carried out by Ansal al-Sharia can be given as a second example;,31.html

[90] ???? ?????? ???? ????????? ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ????????? ?? ??????? ???????

[91] ?????? ????? ??????? ????????? ????? ????? ?????? ?????????  –

[92] ????? ?????? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ????????? –

[94] An example of Sunni/Salafi approach to female slaves-

[95] Nusra Leader’s tweets criticizing IS regarding the female enslavement issue;

[96] British Woman Vows To Become First Female Jihadist To Kill American Or British Captive

[98] British ISIS women form ‘sharia police’ force  –

[101] See, Rabia Tamer. “DAİŞ’e Katılan Kadınlar”, Yeni Özgür Politika, 9 Aralık 2014, s.2.

[102] Salam (????) means peace. Islam (?????) exactly means to make peace, to live in peace or to spread peace– Muslim (????) means the person who lives the peace and make others live in it. To give examples from some Turkish words of Arabic origin;  ‘haber’, ‘ihbar’(to report), ‘muhbir’(that who reports, informs), or ‘fesat’ (defeatism), ‘ifsat’(act of defeatism), ‘müfsit’ (that who is in act of defeatism, who spreads it). ‘Islam’ and the root s-l-m (???) from which it is derived are of Semitic origin and used in Sami languages and religious sources. It is not a proper noun. It is not used as a proper name in Koran too.

[103] Öcalan: IŞİD bir İsrail projesidir, AKP de buna karşı direnemez.

[104] ?????????????? ???????? ??????????? ???????? –