Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘The Jihadis Return’

“The clearest and simplest account of events in Iraq and Syria leading up to the present nightmare” THE JIHADIS RETURN praised by Financial Times

Friday, September 11th, 2015

The shortest, and the one that gives the clearest and simplest account of events in Iraq and Syria leading up to the present nightmare, is by Patrick Cockburn, whose reports on the Middle East for the Independent have won him almost universal respect among specialists. He certainly deserves high marks for spotting the importance of Isis earlier than most. In fact, his book was first published, as The Jihadis Return, a year ago. But it so quickly established itself as essential reading on the subject that Verso republished it as The Rise of Islamic State in February, with a new afterword.

To read the rest of the review, visit Financial Times.

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in The Baffler

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Iraq, its frontiers inscribed by British colonialism, had not known democracy since the dawn of civilization. Now it offers a second home to ISIS. Was this, too, inevitable?

Cockburn’s narrative suggests otherwise. As a somnambulist march toward disaster, America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq was a tour de force. After the ill-conceived initial conflict, the by now familiar drama unfolded with America’s dismemberment of the country’s overwhelmingly Sunni army and Baath party, paving the way for a Sunni rebellion. The White House, as if cued by Iran, organized elections won by the Shiite majority, installing in power an incompetent if ruthlessly sectarian Shiite government, aided by Shiite militias allied with Tehran. America’s “surge” only delayed the looming catastrophe. Then came U.S. military withdrawal in 2011, by which time ISIS was on its way. Given the repression by militias and the U.S.-backed government, Sunnis, as Cockburn notes, “have no alternative but to stick with ISIS or flee, if they want to survive.”

To read the rest of the review, visit The Baffler.

“Extremely important and highly readable” — Nomadic Press on PATRICK COCKBURN‘s THE JIHADIS RETURN

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

The Jihadis Return is a brisk, yet thoroughgoing, overview of the resurgence of jihadi movements in the region. Though published in August of last year [2014], and thus not including the many developments since that time, Cockburn’s book is by no means out of date. It is rather an extremely important and highly readable examination of the root causes of Sunni jihadism’s recent renascence, combined with a brief history of the Syrian conflict and a masterful chapter focusing on the media’s role in obscuring the true nature of the unrest.

To read the rest of the review, visit Nomadic Press

PATRICK COCKBURN applauded for his work tracing the rise of ISIS in The New York Times

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Cockburn, an experienced Mideast journalist, relies heavily on his own reporting. He offers revealing anecdotes on the decrepit state of the Iraqi Army, which collapsed before the Islamic State’s Mosul offensive, and some glimpses of the sluggish and brutal military stalemate in Syria.

To read the full review, visit The New York Times

PATRICK COCKBURN named Foreign Reporter of the Year at The Press Awards

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

“[Patrick Cockburn] brought the existence of the Islamic State to the world’s attention. A formidable piece of reporting drawing on his front line experience, it was written with style and expert analysis.”

To view the rest of the winners, visit the official website of The Press Awards


Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I would like to think it will help to fill a large gap in people’s knowledge of what is happening in Iraq and Syria and the Middle East as a whole. It is not that newspaper, radio and television reporting of crises in the Middle East are necessarily wrong, but that the quality and quantity of the information conveyed is limited by the very urgency and brevity of daily reporting. This simply cannot explain something as complex as the reasons behind the rise of Islamic State. The only way this can be done is by means of well-informed and up-to-date books. Reading them is not just the best way of understanding what is happening; it is the only way of doing so. Schools, universities and even publishers don’t make this point strongly enough.

To read the rest of the article, visit The Independent

PATRICK COCKBURN named Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Patrick Cockburn of The Independent won the foreign affairs prize for his coverage of the emergence of ISIS.

The judges said: “Patrick Cockburn spotted the emergence of Isis much earlier than anybody else and wrote about it with a depth of understanding that was just in a league of its own. Nobody else was writing that stuff at that time, and the judges wondered whether the Government should considering pensioning off the whole of MI6 and hiring Patrick Cockburn instead.

“The breadth of his knowledge and his ability make connections is phenomenal.”

To read the rest of the article, visit Press Gazette

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in Paste Magazine

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Cockburn surveys the Middle East with a tried loupe, serving as a correspondent there for more than 30 years, first with The Financial Times and presently with The Independent. His slim and beautiful The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising benefits immensely from that practiced eye. In a fleet retelling of the most tumultuous geopolitical theater this millennium, Cockburn vivisects Middle Eastern political, religious, and military movements—an incestuous relationship, in many cases—since 9/11 to arrive at the present tangled day.

To read the rest of the article, visit Paste Magazine

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in Actually Existing Barbarism

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Experienced journalist and author Patrick Cockburn has written a timely book which serves as a useful primer to the IS phenomenon. Whilst not focusing too much on the complicated evolution of what is currently IS, the strength of Cockburn’s book lies in clearly explaining the geo-political conjuncture which has provided the opportunity for the IS to seize and hold an area the size of Britain. The slow-motion catastrophe in Syria provided the perfect staging ground for IS’ re-emergence in Iraq during a time of deepening sectarian crisis. The success of IS in Iraq needs is based on the support of the majority Sunni population who have in parts, and not uncritically sided with IS against the Shia dominated Iraqi state. That IS’s success must be attributed to wider forces including the resistance of certain sections of the Sunni population to the violent Shia dominance of the Iraqi state is a key to understanding the IS phenomenon.

To read the rest of the article, visit Actually Existing Barbarism

THE JIHADIS RETURN excerpted in Newsweek

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The most sinister change in the way war is perceived through the media springs from what just a few years ago seemed to be a wholly positive development. Satellite television and the use of information supplied by YouTube, bloggers and social media were portrayed as liberating innovations at the beginning of the Arab Spring. The monopoly on information imposed by police states from Tunisia to Egypt and Bahrain had been broken.

But as the course of the uprising in Syria has shown, satellite television and the Internet can also be used to spread propaganda and hate.

“Half of Jihad is Media” is one slogan posted on a jihadist website, which, taken broadly, is wholly correct. The ideas, actions, and aims of fundamentalist Sunni jihadists are broadcast daily through satellite television stations, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. As long as such powerful means of propagandizing exist, groups similar to al Qaeda will never go short of money or recruits.

Read the full excerpt on Newsweek


Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in Peace News

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

If you want a concise, thoughtful background briefing on the ISIS crisis, this is it – written by a journalist with three decades of experience in the region. This is a compelling account of how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has managed to conquer an area the size of Britain. Patrick Cockburn knew something was coming: he nominated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, as the Independent’s ‘man of the year’ for the Middle East on 1 January, days before ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Fallujah, and six months before ISIS electrified the world by taking over Iraq’s second city, Mosul.

Read the full review on Peace News


Monday, September 29th, 2014

Tariq Ali: Yeah. So, coming to the key thing now. You’ve written that the Skykes-Picot agreement has probably finally finished. This was the agreement after the First World War whereby Ottoman lands in the Arab world were divided up between France and Britain. But Patrick, you may be right. In 2006 I felt that there was no future for Iraq as a state because of what had happened and you’d probably have a Shia state and a pro-Saudi Sunni state and a Kurdish state. Do you think this is going to happen now in some shape or form over the next five years?

Patrick Cockburn: In some shape, but not exactly, you know I don’t think map-makers are going to sort of have the borders of their new states there. But I think you’ll effectively have three sovereign states in Iraq. And you do have that already. I mean, you’re a Shia in Baghdad. If I’m in Baghdad, I can’t go an hour North of Baghdad without having my head chopped off. Likewise a Kurd in the North and likewise any Sunni who tries to come through any checkpoint in Baghdad or into Kurdistan is likely to be arrested…

Read the full interview on Counter Punch

THE JIHADIS RETURN covered in review 31

Friday, September 26th, 2014

‘The deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria may now have gone too far to re-create genuinely unitary states.’ So writes Patrick Cockburn towards the end of The Jihadis Return, a remarkably timely intervention that explores the recent history and present dynamics of what Cockburn terms ‘al’Qa’ida type movements’, foremost amongst which is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). It is a gloomy prognosis, one which represents the final nail in the already-rotten coffin of the American-led invasion of Iraq and its efforts to bring ‘democracy’ to that country. However, as Cockburn shows, the rise of ISIS has implications not only for the legacy of Western military interventionism in the region, but also for the way in which the Arab Spring may come to be viewed historically.

Read the full review on review 31

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in The Telegraph

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

This short book does not suggest any solutions. Perhaps there aren’t any. Western interventions in the past few years – such as Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2010 – have been disastrous.

But it is indispensable for anybody wishing to understand a terrifying new phenomenon which is already showing signs of inspiring emulators from North Africa to Pakistan.

Read the full review on The Telegraph


Thursday, September 25th, 2014

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to London, where we’re joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. His new book is called The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.

Patrick, welcome back to Democracy Now! So, President Obama says we must degrade and destroy the Islamic State. Is this the new line in the sand? Do you see echoes of 2003? Is this going to deal with this violence in the Middle East with this group and the related group, Khorasan?

PATRICK COCKBURN: No, it’s not. I mean, it’s—as he said himself, it’s going to take years. But I don’t think it’s going to work. You know, the first day of bombings like this, or bombardments, are usually the best, and there are pictures on television of large buildings being blown up, and it all looks very effective, but usually the buildings have nobody in them. Remember that this didn’t work when the U.S. had 150,000 soldiers in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, so I doubt if it’s going to work now. It’s going to make it more difficult for the Islamic State to put its gunmen into convoys and launch blitzkrieg attacks on bases and on towns, but otherwise it’s not going to have a decisive effect. And you can see that in Iraq, where they’ve been bombing since the beginning of August, and ISIS, the Islamic State, is still on the offensive.

AMY GOODMAN: Will it have a recruiting effect?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Yes. I think they’re probably not short of recruits anyway. You know, in Iraq and Syria, you have a vast body of unemployed, bitter young men who will look to the Islamic State as somebody who will employ them, somebody who has—shows religious leadership. So, I don’t think that they’ll have any problem with recruitment.

Watch the full interview on Democracy Now!

Belén Fernández reviews THE JIHADIS RETURN for the Middle East Eye

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

A standard feature of imperialism is that empire-induced disasters are deemed to require imperial solutions, one effect of which is, inevitably, further disaster.

Take the case of al-Qaeda, a force whose development was encouraged by US policy and military machinations. Even the imperial apologist Thomas Friedman has admitted: “It seems likely that some of the Saudi [September 11] hijackers first came in contact with al-Qaeda and went through Terrorism 101 when they signed up for the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets.”

The hijackers’ practical application of the lessons from their terrorism course was, obviously, 9/11. In response, the US government prescribed the War on Terror. Thanks in part to that effort, we’ve now got ourselves a caliphate in the Middle East, proclaimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), formerly al-Qaeda in Iraq. The new territorial entity is being attended to by US drone strikes and other schemes by the empire and its friends.

In his just-released book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn sets the record straight with regard to the ongoing fiasco and the advance of ISIS – now called simply the Islamic State (IS) – and other jihadist groups.

Read the full review at the Middle East Eye.

This Is Hell! with Chuck Mertz interviews PATRICK COCKBURN

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

You heard of ISIS before you heard of ISIS – they used to be called “resistance fighters,” or “anti-Assad forces,” – back when we were providing them with arms and aid. Patrick Cockburn covers the full story of the Islamic State’s sweep across the wreckage of Syria and Iraq in his book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising (excerpt at CounterPunch.)

Patrick calls into TiH! to set up a broad political context for the history and current state of the ISIS/ISIL, from the internal tensions stoked by Western policies that enabled the group to flourish in Syria and then Iraq, to the region’s religious, political and financial backers operating in the open, and finally the realization that nations can support and combat violent groups at the same time, in a cycle that costs lives but makes certain people lots and lots of money.

Listen to the full interview at This Is Hell!

THE JIHADIS RETURN is reviewed in The Irish Times

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

“For two years Iraqi politicians had been warning anybody who would listen to them that if the civil war in Syria continued it would destabilise the fragile status quo in Iraq,” Cockburn writes. “When Mosul fell everybody blamed Maliki, who certainly had a lot to answer for, but the real cause of the debacle in Iraq was the war across Iraq’s border. The revolt of the Syrian Sunni had caused a similar explosion in Iraq.”

If western governments have been blind to the threat represented by groups like Isis, many journalists have also been pleased to fall in with the orthodox narrative about the conflict in Syria.

Cockburn notes that much western reporting of the Arab Spring was informed by a naive belief that technological innovations such as social media had fundamentally changed political realities. “Antagonisms that predated the Arab Spring were suddenly said to be obsolete; a brave new world was being created at hectic speed,” he writes.

Read the full review in The Irish Times.

THE JIHADIS RETURN is reviewed in The Independent

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

While the mainstream media trumpet moral outrage and airstrikes, Patrick Cockburn deftly unveils the elephants in the room. At the heart of Western failure since 9/11 is Washington’s craven unwillingness to confront the political and financial might of Saudi Arabia.

Not a subject Washington wants to talk about: 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report dealing with Saudi Arabia were cut and never published. It was only thanks to WikiLeaks that a Hillary Clinton cable complaining “that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups” came to light. But Cockburn points to another twist: “Jihadist social media is now openly attacking the Saudi royal family.” Is it too late for the Saudi rulers to rein in a jihad of their own making?

Read the full review in The Independent.

Rand Paul recommends THE JIHADIS RETURN in The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

But the problem is, we did do something. We aided those who’ve contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. The CIA delivered arms and other equipment to Syrian rebels, strengthening the side of the ISIS jihadists. Some even traveled to Syria from America to give moral and material support to these rebels even though there had been multiple reports some were allied with al Qaeda.

Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the London newspaper, the Independent, recently reported something disturbing about these rebel groups in Syria. In his new book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising,” Mr. Cockburn writes that he traveled to southeast Turkey earlier in the year where “a source told me that ‘without exception’ they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the U.S.” It’s safe to say these rebels are probably not friends of the United States.

Read Rand Paul’s full op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times cites THE JIHADIS RETURN

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The chicken that came home to roost from the Syrian debacle is called ISIS. It is not Al Qaeda. But, as the journalist Patrick Cockburn has noted, Al Qaeda “is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case.”

ISIS grew through American weakness — the setting of objectives and red lines in Syria that proved vacuous. But the deepest American and Western defeat has been ideological. As Hussain said, “If you don’t have a concerted strategy to undermine their narrative, their values, their worldview, you are not going to succeed. Everyone in society has to take on the challenge.”

Read the full op-ed at The New York Times.

THE JIHADIS RETURN excerpted in TomDispatch with exclusive introduction by PATRICK COCKBURN

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Has anyone covered this nightmare better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now. As it happens, when he publishes a new book on the Middle East (the last time was 2008), he makes one of his rare appearances at TomDispatch. This month, his latest must-read work, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is out. Today, this website has an excerpt from its first chapter on why the war on terror was such a failure (and why, if Washington was insistent on invading someplace, it probably should have chosen Saudi Arabia). It includes a special introductory section written just for TomDispatch. Thanks go to his publisher, OR Books.

Read the full excerpt at TomDispatch.

VICE Magazine runs an excerpt from Patrick Cockburn’s THE JIHADIS RETURN

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Despite these warnings, I was shocked a month or so later when, on the 10th of June, Mosul fell almost without a fight. Every derogatory story I had ever heard about the Iraqi army being a financial racket in which commanders bought their posts in order to grow rich on kickbacks and embezzlement turned out to be true. The ordinary soldiers may have run away in Mosul, but not as quickly as their generals, who turned up in civilian clothes in Erbil, the Kurdish capital. It had become apparent over the previous year that ISIS was run with a chilling blend of ideological fanaticism and military efficiency. Its campaign to take northern and western Iraq was expertly planned, choosing soft targets and avoiding well defended positions, or, as ISIS put it, moving “like a serpent through rocks”.

Read the full excerpt at VICE.

Counterpunch reviews THE JIHADIS RETURN

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The Jihadis Return is an important book. Albeit a bit too brief to cover the ever-changing situation in Iraq and Syria, it does provide a fairly comprehensive look at the non-state forces in the region, who they are backed by, the motives of those backers and the sectarian desires of those Cockburn calls jihadis. The picture that arises from this text is one whose primary characteristic is bloody and uncertain. As Cockburn makes clear, it is also a picture originally drawn by Washington with its support of the current government in Baghdad and now being redrawn by individuals and groups who feel they were left out of the picture. Their perception holds some truth; Washington’s client regime in Baghdad is seen as a Shia regime, in large part because its leaders have not only ignored Sunni demands for funds and fair treatment, but because it has attacked peaceful protests by Sunnis, locking up the participants and killing dozens. Whether or not the latest US-approved regime will continue these practices remains to be seen.

Read the full review at Counterpunch.

PATRICK COCKBURN discusses the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria on Democracy Now!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

The United States is sending 130 more troops to Iraq amidst a bombing campaign against ISIS militants in the north and a political crisis gripping Baghdad. We are joined by veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, author of the new book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.” Cockburn addresses the power struggle in Baghdad, Hillary Clinton’s claim that President Obama’s “failure” to support Syrian rebels helped fuel ISIS’s advance, the role of oil in the current U.S. airstrikes, and his fears that Iraq is entering a “new, more explosive era far worse than anything we’ve seen over the last 10 years.”

Watch the full interview at Democracy Now!

THE JIHADIS RETURN is excerpted in Counterpunch

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.

The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them. Iraq is facing a civil war that could be as bloody as anything that we have seen in Syria and could go on for years.

Read the full excerpt on Counterpunch.

On MSNBC, Amy Goodman recommends THE JIHADIS RETURN by Patrick Cockburn

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Watch the full video on MSNBC.

The Independent publishes an excerpt from THE JIHADIS RETURN by Patrick Cockburn

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.

Read the full excerpt at The Independent.

PATRICK COCKBURN speaks to Democracy Now! about the situation in Iraq

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Iraq remains on the verge of splintering into three separate states as Sunni militants expand their stronghold in the north and west of Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared itself a caliphate last month and now controls large parts of northern and western Iraq and much of eastern Syria. Recent advances by ISIS, including in the city of Tikrit, come amidst leaks revealing extensive Pentagon concerns over its effort to advise the Iraqi military. Iraqi politicians, meanwhile, are scrambling to form a power-sharing government in an effort to save Iraq from splintering into separate Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish states. We are joined by two guests: Reporting live from Baghdad is Hannah Allam, foreign affairs correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers; and joining us from London is Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent and author of the forthcoming book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.”

Watch the full interview at Democracy Now!.

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