RIAC and Valdai Club discuss Islamic State

RIAC and Valdai Club discuss Islamic State

Today Moscow hosted a presentation of the analytical report titled 'Islamic State: alternative statehood?' The document, in which Russian orientalists and international legal experts have summarized all the available information on this phenomenon, was prepared jointly by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) in collaboration with the Valdai Club.

Opening the event, the scientific director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, the chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, Fyodor Lukyanov, said that now "something that will have great consequences is clearly going on in the Middle East."

The head of the Arab and Islamic Studies Center at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, RIAC expert Vasily Kuznetsov, stressed that now "it is very important to understand whether it was an attempt to create an alternative state, or simply a result of the chaos." "Nation states in the East are in crisis today. Either it will be overcome or there will be a complete absence of any government. There is a third option – an alternative statehood," he said.

"There are two main problems in connection with Islamic State. There is a problem of interpretation of what they offer. The second problem is the fragmentation of society. There is a huge dissonance between tradition and modernity," the expert added.

Another problem is the imbalance in institutions. "When the war is over, this structure would have to carry out the functions of the state. There are no other tools," Kuznetsov believes.

"As far as I know, the main basis for the existence of this group is its effectiveness in the socio-economic life of the population. This is more efficient than complete chaos and anarchy. Therefore, the population supports the hard power, because it is not ready to resist it," he said.

A senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sazhin, noted that "the report tells us not only about interesting issues, but also poses new ones."

"There is the Iranian state, which has existed for the last 30 years on the basis of ttheoretical developments of Ayatollah Khomeini. The experience of state-building in Iran has become indicative in the Muslim world. It is quite different from many Islamic countries, but its Islamic essence remains," he said.

Senior researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Boris Dolgov, in his turn, expressed the opinion that "the theoretical basis of IS statehood is not new." "There was an attempt to build an Islamic state in Algeria in the 90s. There were attempts in Sudan. Of course, this idea is utopian. But it is attractive for many countries which have no social and economic problems," the orientalist noted.

"In the first place, IS is a man-made structure. When it gained such strength that it ceased to be a manipulated structure, attempts were made to deal with it. Coalition aircraft in Syria are dropping weapons on the Islamists to remove the unwanted regime by their hands. However, the Syrian opposition has missed the moment when they could find common ground to build a common front," he said.

"Now IS is perceived mostly through the prism of crimes that it commits," Dolgov believes.

In his opinion, this phenomenon is generated by the crisis of the state, which is largely due to outside interference in the Middle East.