On February 16, La Pietra Dialogues was given the opportunity to host Olivier Roy, an expert on religious fundamentalism in the Middle East. From his talk, we learned that governments and militaries worldwide have made great investments of time, funds, and human lives into combatting the Islamic State. These efforts have come about largely due to fears related to ISIS’s desire to expand their vision of an Islamic state outside of their current territory and into the greater Middle East. There have even been implications of a desired expansion into the western world.. Yet, for all the investments made into combatting this problem, not everyone, including Olivier Roy, is convinced ISIS has the capability to dramatically expand further than its current territory. Since this discussion, we at the La Pietra Dialogues have researched a few statistics that bring light to why these skepticisms may or may not be valid.
According to the Pew Research Center, ISIS has a drastically low approval rating in many countries where Islam is widely practiced. Although the Islamic State is at its strongest throughout Iraq and Syria, the majority of nations that border them view ISIS negatively.. These nations, featured on the Pew graphic, include Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, to name a few. Clearly, many of the places that are the most obvious targets for territorial expansion of the Islamic State are incredibly opposed to allowing such a movement; much less be governed by ISIS.
Next, we see that those in opposition to ISIS have already had many instances of military success against the Islamic State. Well over 7,000 coalition airstrikes have successfully hit their targets, with areas of combat (clearly something necessary for successful military aggression) being among the most frequently targeted objects.
Lastly, we examined where ISIS gets its funding. Clearly, oil is by far the Islamic State’s main source of revenue. In today’s current market the oil market is highly saturated. This means that there are great amounts of supply of the product relative to the demand. Consequently, this drives down the price that ISIS can sell oil for and makes it more difficult for them to fund themselves.
Clearly, there are very significant obstacles standing in the way of the Islamic State’s ability to expand widely across the globe. If you would like to learn more about our speaker, Olivier Roy, and his past insights into Islamic fundamentalism, he has recently given an English-language interview outlining many of these points. It can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DB-br_fog6A