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Saudi Arabia forced to rethink state ideology in fight against IS


Many skeptic observers may easily dismiss contemporary caliphates such as the one that sprung up in Iraq and Syria in June as temporary eruptions playing on Muslims’ emotional dispositions and longing for a glorious past. However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems to have taken the challenge seriously. It quickly joined an international alliance against the Islamic State (IS) and declared the entity a terrorist threat. Given that Saudi Arabia had in the past sponsored and nourished groups very similar to IS that were later designated as terrorist organizations, for example al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, it is surprising that the IS caliphate is now considered a threat to national security. If pan-Islamism was Saudi Arabia’s antidote to the threat of Arab nationalism in a previous era, what is Saudi Arabia’s strategy today to fight IS? Leaving the promise of military might aside, the only solution is to lessen the similarities between the kingdom and the caliphate.

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Photo credit: Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Foter / CC BY-ND

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