Skip to main content

How the Islamic State has helped the Middle East

The expansion of the Islamic State has forced regional powers to cooperate and is in fact strengthening state governance in the Middle East.
Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. Iraqi forces said on Sunday they retook two towns north of Baghdad from Islamic State fighters, driving them from strongholds they had held for months and clearing a main road from the capital to Iran. There was no independent confirmation that the army, Shi'ite militia and Kurdish peshmerga forces had completely retaken Jalawl

The expansion of the Islamic State (IS) has caused serious concerns about the possibility of states in the Middle East collapsing. Yet a careful reading of the situation reveals that IS is in fact gradually strengthening the state's role as the pivotal actor in regional politics. This is significant in three aspects.

First, powerhouses such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are gradually acknowledging the necessity of regional cooperation. Of crucial importance, their approach is mainly based on keeping current states and state institutions intact. This is particularly the case in crisis-hit Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

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.