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Did the Islamic State Start Conscription?

IS has the potential to mobilise some half a million men in areas under its control
Did the Islamic State Start Conscription?

The Islamic State (IS) in Deir al-Zor countryside, some rural areas of Hassakeh and Aleppo has began inviting young people capable of carrying weapons to join their camps to be trained to use it in preparation for operations against the regime in their areas, activists have reported.


The move indictaes a looming and tragic shift in strategy by the organization, suggesting forced conscription in the areas under its authority, widening its ability to cause havoc and deepening the losses already felt by local communities in the areas under its influence, devastating the younger generation by pushing it into wars and futility conquests.


Things had been largely settled internally in most areas under the IS control, where its rule is now uncontested. But the IS is war instrument that feeds on fighting and killing insatiably. Its survival is linked to its continuous expansion according to the motto "hold and expand". The continuity of war needs resources of which the organization has very little, and there is no way to be avoid increasing the energy and human resources represented by the hundreds of thousands of young men who have been stranded in life after the failure of their countries in Iraq and Syria.


IS as an organization has yet to reach the form of state yet and is unable to provide these young men with opportunities for a decent future. They cannot establish factories, investment projects, universities or schools, but it can provide them with wars it believes lead to Paradise in the other world.


Even if the organization did not think in this satanic way spontaneously, the external threats, and perhaps the real danger in the form of local and International alliances formed to eliminate them will push them to think about practical solutions. Therefor they will only find the bloc of young people in their areas to make a human shield from the harsh military strikes that might hit their organization. This is not going to cost them anything but the opinion from the Baghdadi on the compulsion for jihad, which compels every Muslim man and woman, big or small to join the fighting ranks. 


About three and a half million people live in areas controlled by IS in Iraqi Nineveh, more than two million in Anbar, about one million in Salah al-Din, whle another two million live in Deir El-Zor  in Syria, 1.5 million in Raqqa and about one million in the north-east countryside of Aleppo, and at least half a million in the south and east of Hassakeh. That makes a total of over eleven and a half million people in their regions.


international organizations estimate the proportion of young people in Arab societies by about 20%, half of them women. We can therefor  talk about an approximate mass available for recruitment of about one million young men, and if we exclude half of them who have migrated, fled or are unfit for service, this is an exaggerated estimate. But at the end  of the day we can talk about the mass of about 500,000 young men that can be recruited by IS to be trained in initial combat and mobilised for any battle or confrontation.


The organization currently has about 60,000 fighters who fought many confrontations with exceptional skill and organizational experience that can be relied upon for further recruitment and leadership.


An army of hundreds of thousands people, no matter how modest its weapons, can pose an imminent threat in the fragile and tense human geography of the Middle East.  


The fighting style of successive human waves and suicides can achieve gains against the most powerful armies of the region, especially in the light of structural dislocation of its political systems. Socially and morally there is no way to respond to this kind of fighting except with the weapons of extensive genocide and annihilation, which can be used by the great powers. This is the most tragic dimension to all this;  those young men will be reaped by raids without expense, and those young people who will be driven to the fronts by IS will then become the victims of the world twice.


Everyone who did not pay allegiance to the organization of Baghdadi has fled from the areas under his control to neighboring countries, and only those who thought it would be safe and have no hostility towards the organization stayed. But the if signs of conscription emerge, countries of this region will witness a large migration despite the active pursual of IS to close the borders, and those countries will encounter big problems if they are not ready to receive this wave of displacement in a measured way.


But the most important of all moral, political and value judgments is take the case of those who cannot flee into account in any international action to strike the organization, which seems inevitable, no matter how late.




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