Saturday, November 14, 2015

They've changed the rules

Vox asks Brookings expert Will McCants to interpret the Paris atrocity in terms of ISIS objectives --

Zack Beauchamp: Of those explanations that you've offered, which one do you think is the most plausible?
Will McCants: I guess if this were just about an attack in Europe, you might say that it is in reprisal for the attacks being carried out in Syria and Iraq. I don't see this as necessarily part of the propaganda effort or the war with al-Qaeda, because they've already succeeded in attracting far, far more recruits. Given the target of a major enemy in Europe, in light of attacks on Russian civilians and an Iranian ally in Lebanon, it seems to me that this has to do with the war to expand its territory in Syria and Iraq. It is putting its major adversaries on notice that if they continue to impede its state building that they will pay a price.

New York Times (David Kirkpatrick) asking a terrorism expert a few days ago of the possible fallout if Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is shown responsible for bombing the Russian passenger jet --

If its role in bringing down the plane is confirmed, the Sinai Province may have even momentarily surprised and surpassed its vicious parent, and, some analysts said, risked a broad backlash against the Islamic State itself ... The parent group, based in Raqqa, Syria, has much to lose by approving or even embracing the apparent bombing, he [William McCants] argued. Although supporters of the Islamic State are calling the jet’s crash retribution against Russia for its intervention in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, Mr. McCants noted that the Russians had mostly attacked Western-backed rebel groups that were foes of the Islamic State. “Russia has been hitting their enemies for them,” Mr. McCants argued. “I can’t imagine the guys in Raqqa want Russia to go all in against them.” ... But some analysts now wonder if the Egyptian offshoot has taken the Islamic State’s ideology of violence against its enemies even further than its leaders envisioned, multiplying its powerful enemies. “You can’t just say ‘let a thousand bloody flowers bloom’ without some of the blood splattering back at you,” Mr. McCants said.

Compare the expert and the associated interpretations in the two extracts.

UPDATE: From another analysis article by Eric Schmitt and David Kirkpatrick in Sunday's New York Times --

“They have crossed some kind of Rubicon,” said William McCants, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and author of “The ISIS Apocalypse.” “They have definitely shifted in their thinking about targeting their enemies.” When the Islamic State’s Egyptian arm claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian charter plane over Sinai two weeks ago, some analysts wondered if the group’s so-called Sinai Province of the Islamic State had acted on its own and leapt out in front, even at the cost of risking a Russian military backlash on the parent group in Syria and Iraq.

No quote from any of those latter analysts is provided -- they must have been difficult to locate!

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