The Islamist Phoenix: The Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East
The rise to prominence of the Islamic State (IS)—now dominating Middle Eastern politics—is explained in revealing detail by economist and bestselling author Loretta Napoleoni. The Islamist Phoenix: Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East illuminates the singularity and modernity of IS and describes its strength and its appeal in an increasingly destabilized Middle East. It is a mistake to compare IS to other jihadist groups such as the Taliban or al Qaeda, which aren't interested in contemporary nation-building, says Napoleoni. In her introduction she writes, “While the world of the Taliban was limited to Koranic schools and knowledge based upon the scripts of the Prophet, globalization and modern technology have been the cradle of the Islamic State.” Napoleoni traces the beginnings of IS to the war on terror, its evolving relationship with al-Qaeda, and its current status as the first official Caliphate in over a century. And she details how modernity, pragmatism, and establishing strongholds in financially strategic regions—something no previous Middle East armed organization has been able to do—are the basis for IS’s enormous successes. With brilliant insight and straightforward prose, Napoleoni brings the newest form of shell-state government to light, and shows us how dangerous it would be to underestimate it.
“The IS doesn’t want to destroy. They want to build the 21st-century version of the Caliphate. And that’s what makes them so dangerous,” Napoleoni says.
Praise for The Islamist Phoenix:
"Loretta Napoleoni's The Islamist Phoenix is a vital contribution to our understanding of what is happening in the Middle East. It is, like all great pieces of journalism or history, a counter-narrative, one that refuses to become trapped in the easy and fatuous clichés peddled in the West about resistance and radical Islam. Napoleoni exposes the folly of empire. She forcs us to see ourselves as others see us. She prepares us for the world that will actually exist, not the fantasy world we tried to create through indiscriminate violence, the brutality of occupation, and over a decade of war." -- Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief and author of War is a Force that Gives us Meaning and, with Joe Sacco, of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt
"The Islamist Phoenix is a great entry point for those in want of a more solid understanding of the history and social complexities involved in the rise of the Islamic State. Loretta Napoleoni explains how this iteration of Islamism does not form from a vacuum, but almost inevitably, and sometimes knowingly, from the circumstances and conditions of the West's recent involvement in the Middle East in the last century." -- Chelsea Manning, US military intelligence specialist and whistleblower
Watch video of Loretta Napoleoni and Chris Hedges in conversation at our Islamist Phoenix launch event, presented in partnership with the New York Society for Ethical Culture and AlterNet:
(Video courtesy of Leigha Cohen Video Productions)
About Loretta Napoleoni
Loretta Napoleoni is the author of the bestselling book Rogue Economics: Capitalism's New Reality, which has been translated into fourteen languages, and Terror Inc.: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism, which has been translated into twelve languages. One of the world's leading experts on money laundering and terror financing, she has worked as London correspondent and columnist for La Stampa, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, El País, and Le Monde. A former Fulbright scholar, she holds an MA in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPhil in terrorism from the London School of Economics. For her work as a consultant for the commodities markets, she traveled regularly to Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries, where she has met top financial and political leaders. She lives in London.