Islamic State in Libya (RELS 348)

A response to “Islamic State: Egypt urges international intervention in Libya,” in BBC News online.

This article pertains to Egypt’s call to international communities to intercede against the Islamic State militants that are presently residing in Libya. This plea for international support comes from the Egyptian’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi beliefs that the militant extremists are “a threat to international peace and security.’ On Monday, February 16th at dawn, Egypt launched an air strike in the militant held city of Derna, targeting camps and weapons. These strikes were a direct response to the recent video posting of apparent beheadings of twenty one Egyptian Coptic Christians, by members who are loyal to the Islamic State. These individuals were Egyptians who were kidnapped in the town of Sirte, which is currently under the control of Islamist groups. Egypt is presently battling members of the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula, and has been reaching out to international powers to aid on the ongoing fight. However, many other countries have had little direct involvement thus far, citing that diplomatic solutions should be the primary action.
In lecture, Dr. Hexham has described an empire as the imposed political rule over people and the resources of the land they occupy. To gain this control and power, an empire will use a strong military force, or the threat to implement this. Under this definition, the Islamic State would fall into the category of an empire. The goal of this group of individuals is to institute a caliphate. A caliphate is a state that is ruled by a single religious and political leader (caliph), who rules according to a strict interpretation of Sharia Law. The Islamic State has been attempting to achieve this goal by using extremely brutal force against those they perceive as non-believers, such as crucifixions, mass shootings, and beheadings such as in the article (information from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29052144). Dr. Hexham also stated that empires will collect taxes, which is what the Islamic State has been doing from non-Muslims to finance their cause. He has also stated in lecture that conquests, to the Muslims, were one of two miracles, the other being the Koran. Conquests in history that had been rapid and successful were seen as a sign from God as a blessing on Islam, and this could be a potential viewpoint for extreme members of the Islamic State as well. Currently, their main area is located to Iraq and Syria, however, as reported in the article there is evidence of their presence in Libya, demonstrating intent to grow in numbers, acquired land, and resources. The author of this article reports that the international community is wary to respond to pleas of support made by Egypt, and I believe the author is indirectly stating that international support has been lacking and insufficient. I think it is extremely evident that the Islamic State is looking towards expansion, and Egypt and other nations could possibly need help protecting their citizens. One of the reasons why international powers do not want to intervene could possibly be that they might want to exhaust all other diplomatic measures first before going further. To play devil’s advocate, there could be other reasons as well. As much as Irwin has criticized Said on the actual factuality of his writings and that the issue is much more complex, and as much as I agree with many of Irwin’s arguments, perhaps Said was onto something with the Orientalist. Said stated that Orientalism sparked a particular way of viewing empires, colonialism and the modern world and the relationship with religion. Perhaps because of the stereotypical view of the ‘orient’ described by Said, which was created by Western cultures, these Western cultures are reluctant to help now because of the mystery and uncertainty they view those as the orient. Whatever the actual reasoning may be, we will have to see how the international countries respond to the ongoing pursuit of the Islamic State. #uwreligions

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