In an op-ed published on al Arabiya on November 23, 2014, Dr. Theodore Karasik, Senior Advisor to Risk Insurance Management in Dubai, UAE, presented the state administrative structure of ISIS as a model that traverses tribal links to facilitate alliances in Syria and Iraq. The danger, however, lies in how easily this model can be emulated in North Africa and other parts of the world.

Despite coalition air strikes, ISIS, or the Islamic State (IS), is a very dangerous group set on state development. It is not terrorist nor insurgent; ISIS represents a group that mixes extremism with state-building designs. They are mercantilism-fundamentalists if you will. They have their own notion of a state and all the functions of such a state.

Its [ISIS’] program of “vilayaat” or “emirates” development, in some minor cases, is beginning to take shape throughout the MENA region and is likely to grow through local grievances and appeals to those who are outcasts in their own countries.

A vilayet is an administrative unit usually translated from Arabic to English as a province or governorate within a state. Currently, ISIS has five vilayaat in their state administrative organization. Most appear to be functioning through the take-over of government services, schools, health care facilities, and courts.

As part of vilayat building, it is important to recognize that ISIS uses bayat to create local alliances with tribes with extremist leanings. Now ISIS representatives are using bayat in Libya and Egypt in order to place communities under their control.

Popular pledges of bayat on the local level construct a more interconnected area of governance out of the territorial patchwork under ISIS control. The unique ability for ISIS to traverse rival tribal coalitions is known as “blood pledges” (bayat damm) in order to forge blood-based alliances.

Overall, there are now seven vilayaat of the Caliphate, and more should be expected. The MENA region is ripe for this type of governance based on tribal networks. The worse news is that the model is exportable outside of MENA. With other extremist groups declaring bayat to ISIS, there is the high probability that the number of vilayaat will grow.

Read full op-ed here.

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