ON-Lion Letter

"Saudi Arabia's announcement of the formation of an 'Islamic Alliance' to combat terrorism in mid-December 2015 incurred the concern of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the 'caliph' of the Islamic State," begins Nibras Kazimi's analysis in "Saudi Arabia's 'Islamic Alliance:'  Major Challenge for Al-Baghdadi's Islamic State, or Potential Opportunity?," in the new issue of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology.  "His propagandists were unprepared to address the ideological ramifications of such a paradigm shift in Saudi behavior."

Kazimi is a visiting fellow of the Hudson Institute's Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World, which publishes Current Trends in Islamist Ideology and is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

"The anti-Saudi ideological formulations and narratives that the jihadists had developed over a number of years did not factor-in the possibility that Saudi state would undertake aggressive military operations beyond its borders, operations directed primarily against themselves," Kazimi continues.  "Saudi thinking may be premised on the idea that the Islamic State -- seeking local support in Iraq and Syria by claiming to act in defense of Sunnis against tyranny and sectarianism -- would crumble easily and quickly if faced with an 'Islamic Alliance' that aims to liberate Sunnis from both the Islamic State and Iranian hegemony alike. 

"The announcement has raised popular expectations of an impending 'new order' in the Middle East among those heartened by what they consider 'long-overdue' Saudi activism," according to Kazimi.  "However, the new Saudi initiative is a dangerous gamble that may backfire on rhetorical and ideological grounds if the campaign fails or takes too long."

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