ISIS and the MB — same ends, different means?
There is almost universal horror at (and condemnation of) ISIS brutal, barbaric tactics. But what I’m more curious about is — are we condemning only ISIS’s methods, or its end goals as well? Because the desire for the creation of an Islamic caliphate uniting the Arab world is not unique to ISIS.
ISIS makes it clear that it seeks to build on its territories in northern Syria and western Iraq to eventually unite the entire Middle East and North Africa under an Islamic “caliphate” governed by the most brutal interpretation of Sharia law and under the authority of al-Baghdadi. This is already how they are governing the territories they currently occupy. For me, this goal is horrific in and of itself, even without the methods ISIS uses. This goal requires the destruction of national identities and autonomy, the suppression of religious and other minorities, the implementation of a brutal and archaic legal system, and an assault on personal freedoms, to say the least. Now I will be the first to acknowledge that the creation of such a caliphate is so remote that it isn’t worthy of discussing (though honestly who would have predicted five years ago that millions of Syrians and Iraqis would live under the control of such a system?).
What I find interesting though is that while the world gets caught up in ISIS brutality (forced drownings, lighting prisoners on fire, throwing gays off buildings, beheading Christians, massacring Iraqi and Syrian POWs, etc.), ISIS’s actual goals get much less coverage. Is this because people don’t find these goals troubling?
It’s also worth mentioning that the goal of creating an Islamic caliphate uniting the region is widely held in Islamist circles. This happens to be a stated goal, from its inception, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many observers emphasize the Muslim Brotherhood’s supposed commitment to using political, and not military, means to achieve this goal (in contrast to ISIS). But at the end of the day, aren’t the ends more important than the means? And if we look at the ends, aren’t the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS 100% aligned?