No one is invincible
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ISIS is much stronger and more organized and motivated than the movements that preceded it. But it is not invincible. However, it will have a greater opportunity to survive and develop as long as it can count on disagreement amongst its enemies

Perhaps we would have been less surprised by the arrival of ISIS and the declaration of the caliphate if we had remembered some of the main events that have taken place in the region since the end of World War II. In the early 1960s, in the wake of the Évian accords between Italy and Algeria, the decolonization process was considered complete. Aside from a small remaining British presence in the Gulf, all of the states of a region that had been Anglo-French were independent and on the path towards more or less capitalist or socialist modernization. Thirty years later, many governments installed at the time of independence had been overthrown, modernization had failed completely and the ruling classes were often oligarchical, corrupt and nepotistic. The most interesting case was Iran, where, due to increasing oil prices following the Yom Kippur War (1973), Shah Reza Pahlavi was enticed by an ambitious, costly and megalomaniacal modernization process. A popular and bourgeois revolution overthrew the regime, but the prize of victory was won by Shiite clerical power and its main Ayatollah. The failure of secular modernization and the creation of an Islamic Republic triggered a sort of return to the faith. It also led to a reawakening of the ancient animosity between Islam’s two large religious families: the Sunnis and the Shiites. Since then, the combination between politics and religion has been the primary cause of almost all conflicts that have erupted throughout the region. The first was between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran. The war that broke out in 1980 lasted eight years and resulted in one million deaths. In many respects, the long Lebanese civil war was no less influenced by religious factors. In response to increasing turbulence in the region, Western democracies could have conducted some limited interventions in cases in which their vital interests risked being compromised. But the U.S. and certain Western powers preferred to affirm their presence and role in the region. Between 1980 and 1988, the United States supported Iraq against Iran. In 1991, they invaded Iraq in response to a dispute between that country and Kuwait. In 2003, they accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction in its arsenals (an accusation that was later found to be false) and they invaded the country once again. This time, the result was even more disastrous. After defeating Saddam Hussein's army, the Americans destroyed the two pillars of the Iraqi state (the armed forces and the Ba'ath party) and ripped power out of the hands of the Sunnis to hand it over to the Shiites. They stirred up a dual resistance movement (nationalist and Sunni), and they sought to mobilize Sunni tribes against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The destabilization of the entire region and the continuation of a conflict that was drawn out for more than a decade made Iraq an eternal battlefield. It has become the favored breeding ground for terrorist organizations, the easiest place for radical Islam to disseminate its calls to jihad and recruit new blood. The Arab Spring, which erupted at the end of 2010, the Western incursion against Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, the crisis of the Egyptian regime and the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood after the rise of the militarists only complicated an already confusing situation. ISIS is much stronger and more organized and motivated than the movements that preceded it. But it is not invincible. However, it will have a greater opportunity to survive and develop as long as it can count on disagreement amongst its enemies and the sympathy of certain Sunni countries that hate Shiites even more than they hate the "caliph" al-Baghdadi.