How long can a militant terrorist group like ISIS, with only a small numbers (e.g. 10,000) and nothing close to a well-organised military hold on to the vast area of land it currently occupies. All it would take is a strong, well-armed, and united army to confront them and they, too, will become history. Recent events in the Central African Republic, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Mali, and Afghanistan show that violent jihadist groups can gain power temporarily but eventually will be swept away by a stronger national force. In recent years, the closest a militant group ever came to running their own entity were the highly disciplined and ruthlessly efficient Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka: they controlled territory, had their own military, and even the trappings of government with a postal system and law school. Once there was unity in the government and military of Sri Lanka, the Tigers were finally defeated.
What will happen to the nation-state of Iraq? Unless there is decisive action taken by the government and/or its friends -- and soon - Iraq is destined to fall apart along ethnic and regional lines. After being beaten by The Islamic State, the army has regrouped and, for now, has stopped further movement into Shia-territory. Yet while the military is uniting, the country is divided politically. Kurds and Sunnis recently walked out of parliament. PM Maliki is being urged to resign but shows no sign of doing so. Rumours have it that a military coup could help him make up his mind.
Is the Shia-majority, who dwell in the south, willing to do what it takes to keep the nation together? Or are they content to cede the barren lands of the north to the Sunnis? Will the Kurds vote to breakaway from Iraq and form an independent Kurdish nation?
What is the future lining up? What is the scorecard of the Islamic State?
Will the Islamic State’s caliphate unite the Sunni Muslim world? No.
Will the Islamic State be in danger of overreach? Possible.
Are they redrawing the international borders? Trying very hard.
Are they supported by other jihadists groups? No.
Will they exacerbate the Sunni-Shia divide? Yes.
Will they stoke the fires of extremism? Undoubtedly, however, they could also wear out their welcome through excessive brutality and overbearing legalism.
Are they bringing instability to an unstable Middle East? Without a doubt.
Will the US get involved in Iraq? The US has no choice - vital interests are at stake, like oil, WMD, containing terror. However, ground troops are not necessary except as a last resort
Is there a danger that they will export terrorism to the West? Yes.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says ISIS is ‘a force that is sophisticated. It's dynamic, it's strong, it's organized, it's well financed, it's competent, and it is a threat to our allies all over the Middle East. It's a threat to Europe. It's a threat to every stabilized country on Earth, and it's a threat to us.’
Iraq is entering into a new civil war, Syria is being torn apart into quasi statelets, Libya is at the mercy of tribal leaders, Yemen is plagued by al Qaeda and insurrection. All this spells serious instability for the Middle East. Countries like Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, which are currently stable, will face more pressure. If improperly handled, the situation could spill over into a regional war. And, the worse case scenario is that it could be spark a third world war (a rather ominous thought as we face the centenary of the start of World War I). It is worth remembering Christ’s exhortation to ‘Watch and pray’ (Matthew 26:41).
The Caliphate and Bible Prophecy
Bible prophecy is a wonderful gift from God. It shines light on the future, gives us an early warning system today, provides an incentive for evangelism and holy living, and is the brightest light on this planet until Jesus Christ, the light of the world, returns (II Peter 1:19). Does it have anything to say about the current trouble?
Some have quoted Isaiah 13, 14, 17, 19, tying them with the caliphate. These are wonderful prophetic passages. My understanding is that they speak about the final fall of Babylon. Isaiah 14 also speaks about the rise and fall of Lucifer, who becomes Satan. That the land of Babylon - Iraq - has returned to the front pages could, in the long-run, have prophetic implications. What we need to see from the above chapters that there is a possibility that Babylon will rise again, only to be judged for good, according to 7 chapters of prophetic utterance (Isaiah 13, 14, 47; Jeremiah 50, 51; Revelation 17, 18). It is unclear how the current situation could result in the rise of Babylon.
The lack of unity in the Arab Muslim world and inter-Muslim conflict reminds us of a prophecy given to Ishmael, who is considered the patriarch of the Muslims in Genesis 16:12 (NKJV): He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.