Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Nabeel Khoury writes for The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, reviewing journalist Patrick Cockburn’s book which records his observations on the ground in Syria and Iraq:
Journalist Patrick Cockburn’s first-hand observations and reported conversations with fighters on the ground in Syria and Iraq lend much credibility to his coverage of events in those two countries. In The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution, he provides valuable insights into the complex political scene that surrounds the fighting on the ground. His description of the killing fields in both countries as a strange mélange of fighters from around the region and the world, further complicated by the interventions, funding, and training of Western and Arab intelligence organizations, is quite compelling.
Cockburn covers a wide and complex web of issues connected to the Arab uprisings of 2011 and the emergence of ISIS. The core concept of the book, however, is embedded in the title and points to the growth of Sunni anger against their corrupt governments as a major cause of the rise and expansion of ISIS. This anger, combined with pervasive Wahhabi values, offered ISIS at least an ambivalent reception if not an outright welcome mat in Sunni communities in Syria and Iraq.