Islamic State thrives on terror, hopes for legitimacy

The Islamic State continues to cause chaos across the world, using severe measures in an attempt to demonstrate its legitimacy to govern in the Middle East. Their current tactics involve centralized attacks, such as the recent bombing of a Damascus suburb in Syria on Sunday Jan. 31.

Legitimacy in a government can be obtained through numerous mediums, but they all seek the recognition of power by other nations. IS’s actions demonstrate that tyranny is its chosen avenue to gain the power to rule. This can be seen in the aforementioned Damascus attack where according to the Syrian Foreign Ministry, an estimated 50 individuals were killed and more than 100 were injured. This approach can seem to be illogical, since IS attacks the people that they claim to represent.

According to CNN, IS has executed 3,895 people in the past 19 months, with a little more than half of those individuals being civilians. It is horrific that so many lives have been lost to a process of obtaining governance and legitimacy.

The authority that IS possesses over its devoted followers is impressive. Terrorist groups are only as strong as their members and, clearly, IS has the members necessary to establish their existence as a dominant group. The November 2015 attacks in Paris wouldn’t have occurred the way they did by mere coincidence—the followers of the extremist group successfully carried out the gruesome tasks that the radical group dictates.

IS is not the only group in the region seeking legitimacy, either. Palestine—located on the western bank of Israel—is not completely recognized as having a legitimate government. The situation in the region has caused tension to the extent of immense death and devastation. The United States does not recognize Palestine as an official state due to its foreign aid relation to Israel.

Where the two groups differ is their methodology toward legitimacy. IS has put a stop in its diplomatic system and has perked up its economy and militia in order to use terrorism as a tactic while Palestine has established a diplomatic approach to addressing its problems.

Syrian efforts to contain and exterminate IS have proven to be somewhat effective. In the course of the last year, the frequency of IS attacks has slowed down. Foreign states have intervened to address IS activities with airstrikes and infiltration.

After the attacks on Damascus, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqui said, “The aim of this cowardly and desperate terrorist attack is to raise the morale of the defeated terrorist groups following the great victories that our brave army has accomplished in several areas.” The remarks shine a light on the advancement against IS, but fail to acknowledge the death of civilians.

This is exactly what IS thrives on: the negligence of the government toward its civilians. The legitimacy within the radical Islamic group originates in the protection and resources the group provides to its members—all things the government lacks.

IS is a force to be reckoned with. There is no denying that the motives of the radical extremist group will continue to bring bloodshed. Until a proper solution is proposed, the world’s best hope to minimize these terrorist activities in the name of legitimacy is the coalition.