A timely, piercing study of the Islamic State, as its rise to prominence and domination of Middle Eastern politics, is explained in revealing detail by economist and bestselling author Loretta Napoleoni. Napoleoni illuminates the singularity of IS and how it differs from other jihadist organisations, particularly in terms of its economic structure and focus on consensus instead of pure violence. Napoleoni traces the beginnings of IS, its dynamic with al-Qaeda, and its current status as the first official Caliphate in over a century.
The Islamist Phoenix reads like an outgrowth of periodical pieces, hence there is a steady redundancy from chapter to chapter. The ideas are forwarded clearly and without the baggage of bias(well, until later, as you'll see). The phoenix of the title refers how Salafism has responded to the various conflicts of the last 15 years and re-imagined itself presently as a tech savvy Islamic State, eager to conduct the business of state while maintaining a diet of terror for its opponents. The late Al Qaeda leader in Iraq al Zarqawi appears to have been crucial in this turn of events, while the US was painting Sadr City as the inner circle of Hell. The missed opportunites and opinions of the West is a recurring thene in the Napoleoni's analysis. The Islamic concept of takfir refers to apostasy or heresy is readily bandied back and forth between Sunnis and Shia. It gives a free hand to what many perceive as the barbarism of ISIL. It was at this point of the discussion that term genocide and the name Hitler appeared. I had to wince.
Napoleoni offers no easy solutions. The current proxy conflicts being waged against both IS as well Assad's Syrian government are also grossly counter-productive. This only appears to lead to further regional destabilization. 2.5 stars.