The Islamic State has so far managed to weather the near constant barrage of coalition missiles and warplanes, and has largely staved off the advance of Kurdish and other forces on the ground. As terrible as it is to admit, the Islamic State is putting up a solid fight against its numerically and technologically superior opponents.
But as the Islamic State’s ranks grow and its own “borders” solidify, the group is facing a new challenge: internal dissent. The Islamic State has been working to establish itself as a bonafide government, but as it does so, leaders are finding themselves facing the problems confronted by most governments.
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From corruption, to resentment over pay disparities and responsibilities, to growing ideological differences among the group’s many soldiers, the Islamic State is facing an increasing number of internal challenges.
And the rest of the world can cross its fingers and hope that these internal challenges will help to unravel the terrorist state.
Islamic State: Fissures Growing Along Ideological and Practical Lines
The Islamic State is a mixture of local Iraqi and Syrian troops, along with soldiers from abroad. Some members within the group are reporting, however, that locals are being treated worse than international soldiers. Lower pay and less desirable work duties appear to be the norm for local troops, which is helping to generate tensions between the two groups.
Defectors are reporting that not all is well within the ranks of Daesh, in spite of the groups efforts to portray itself as unified. For example, when Jordanian air force pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh was captured, many within the group thought he should be ransomed, and also noted that there was no precedence within the Quran to burn someone alive.
Sadly, ISIS’s leadership went ahead with their plans and doused him in gasoline and lit him afire, recording each gruesome moment. This fissure shows the clear distinction between hard-lined Islamists who insist on sticking to their strict and violent interpretation of the Quran, and those Islamists who care primarily about just violence.
Ultimately Kasasbeh ended up being burned alive, but that act of brutality alone might just help encourage more fissures within the group.
Increasing Number of Westerners Want To Defect
There must be some sort of romance in the idea of joining up with the Islamic State. A number of Westerners have fled their home countries to join with Daesh, but it turns out that quite a few of them end up regretting their choice. Killing innocent children and enslaving people probably losses its appeals once you see it up close and personal.
Daesh’s list of atrocities now is far too long to recount, but the Islamic State has murdered children, sold women into slavery, and throw gay people from buildings, among other things. ISIS is also known for ruling with an iron fist and for frequently abusing local civilians, including fellow Sunni Muslims.
A number of jihadis have thus begun to abandon the Islamic State, often citing the group’s barbarity and brutality as the key reason for doing so. Defecting from the Islamic State is no easy or risk free endeavor, and if caught defectors can be executed. Still, the fact that people are trying to defect is encouraging and even if they are forced to stay in ISIS’s ranks, their quiet dissent will only increase internal pressure within the group.
Ultimately, a dissolution of the Islamic State from the inside out may be what finally brings ISIS to its knees. It’s important to remember that Daesh itself is an off-shoot of Al Queda and the result of a split due to ideological differences. It may only be a matter of time before internal pressures pull the group apart.