Skip to main content

Why Islamic State's caliphate is trouble for Egypt

If the Islamic State's caliphate survives, it will attract Egyptian Islamists and others wishing to rebel against Sisi's vision of a nationalist Egyptian state.
A poster of Egypt's former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen at a stall, with the Al-Azhar Mosque in the background, in the old Islamic area of Cairo May 8, 2014. As the Egyptian state presses its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the man expected to become president has deployed a new weapon in the battle with the Islamists: his own vision of Islam. Sisi, the former army chief who deposed the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi and is expected to be elected president later this month, has cast himself as

Much has been written juxtaposing the rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS) to the rise of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with emphasis on how both are outdated and will eventually crumble as representations of two failed models — hypernationalism and radical Islamism. The “modern” military-led nationalist Arab state model may be decayed and likely to fall eventually, but the IS model will survive far longer than anyone expects.

It has been less than two months since the rise to power of IS, which some cheekily refer to as SIC (State of the Islamic Caliphate), but its significance should not be ignored. The group's emergence and continued existence is an impressive feat in today’s world order. IS now controls territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Fallujah, in western Iraq, and the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It has already established a judicial system, provides security, runs schools and offers social services.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.