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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Author: Patrick Cockburn

Print Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Verso; Reprint edition (February 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781784780401

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

Book Description

Out of the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and Syria, a new threat emerges. While Al-Qaeda is weakened, new jihadi movements, especially ISIS, are starting to emerge. In military operations in June 2014 they were far more successful that Al Qaeda ever were, taking territory that reaches across borders and includes the city of Mosul. The reports of their military coordination and brutality to their victims are chilling. While they call for the formation of a new caliphate once again the West becomes a target.

How could things have gone so badly wrong? In The Rise of Islamic State, Cockburn analyses the reasons for the unfolding of US and the West’s greatest foreign policy debacle and the impact that it has on the war torn and volatile Middle East.

Editorial Reviews

“Amid the many books published on the current conflicts reshaping the Middle East, few are as informative or perceptive as The Rise of Islamic State.”The Guardian

“Quite simply, the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today.”Seymour Hersh

“His dispatches from Iraq are an exemplary untangling of the political and social complexity that lies behind one of the world’s great crises. He writes fairly, compassionately and clearly, with a steady and knowledgeable eye.”Orwell Prize

“One of the most accurate and intrepid journalists in Iraq.”Sidney Blumenthal

“Authoritative.”Washington Post

“Amid the many books published on the current conflicts reshaping the Middle East, few are as informative or perceptive as The Rise of Islamic State.” Jason Burke, Observer

Book Review: Cockburn’s ‘The Rise of Islamic State’

By: Jim Miles

The Rise of Islamic State is a worthy read, clearly defining the major roles and events of this long-developing story.

When observed from the mainstream media perspective, the rise of ISIS was an apparent ‘out of nowhere’ phenomenon.  It only found prominence when they approached Irbil, the Kurdish ‘oil’ city where western companies maneuvered for resource control.  It was then that it became mainstream media newsworthy, and then that the U.S. ordered its bombing campaign and the ouster of Maliki, who was blamed for the ills of Iraq and its ghost army.

In clear and concise language and format, Patrick Cockburn presents a more realistic story of the rise of ISIS in his latest work, The Rise of the Islamic State. Rather than being a sudden event, it is seen to be a logical progression of events backgrounded by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

As the wars in the Middle East have progressed they have become more and more violent.  It started with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, aided and abetted by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan’s ISI.  After successfully getting rid of Soviet forces, those “freedom fighters” morphed into the Taliban, where the ideology of al-Qaeda grew its protected roots.

When Iraq was illegally attacked by the U.S. in 2003, al-Qaeda found a new place to spread its influence where it had not been before.  At first, it found support with the disenfranchised Sunni tribes, later minimized by the “Awakening”—the U.S. big dollar effort to buy out the Sunni leaders.

After the war in Iraq, a highly unstable state was left behind, essentially divided into three parts: Kurds in the northeast, Sunnis in the west, and the Shia in the south.  The continuing internecine fighting waged since the U.S. departure has mostly been under the radar of the western news networks.   Add to that the new and increasingly fierce fighting by the civil war in Syria, pitting the Assad government, backed by Russia, against a web of opposition groups backed by the U.S. and its allies.

The combination of disaffected Sunnis—many former military personnel, many affected by the Sunni-Shia fighting—and well supplied and trained fundamentalist Islamic groups—again with U.S. and Saudi direction—in Syria coalesced into ISIS, a new bigger, badder, meaner, and much more efficient fighting organization.

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About the Author

Patrick Cockburn is currently Middle East correspondent for the Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history, including The Occupation and Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession (with Andrew Cockburn) as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons, which was shortlisted for a Costa Award. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009 and is the winner of the 2014 Foreign Affairs Journalist of The Year Award.

More By Patrick Cockburn:

*The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising: