What do we mean when we say that Daesh controls a terroritory?



In the recent news, it was said that the terrorist organization Daesh controls now half of Syria, together with one third of Iraq.

What does it mean for a terrorist organization to control such a territory? Is it similar to a classical invasion of a territory by a country (like during the colonization era)? Or does it mean that these territories are so dangerous because of terrorism so that the official rulers (as defined by the United Nations) are considered to have lost control on these territories (in a similar fashion than North Mali a few years ago)?

Is Daesh on a way to be a sufficiently stable and well-organized political entity so that other countries could be forced to have "diplomatic relationship" with it? Gaddafi's Lybia had been called a "rogue state". Is the territory controled by Daesh close to be a new "rogue state"?


Posted 2015-05-22T04:19:37.570

Reputation: 2 050

Half of Syria + One third of Syria. It controls 5/6 of Syria then? – Bregalad – 2015-05-22T08:04:45.840

I wanted to write Iraq... thank you for pointing this out. – Taladris – 2015-05-22T08:08:00.537



"Lost control" in this case means their armed forces are now protecting that territory and any governance is done by them. They do, as you say, act more like a state in this. But of course many would prefer not to suggest that.

You should remember that the only difference between a terrorist organisation and a state is what people call them. Perception is everything, so people will still refer to them as a terrorist organisation. However, they could well meet every definition of a state, since they do control territory. But their control over these territories is not stable and things are changing so quickly that lines can't be drawn.

Even if they stopped expanding and managed to defend their territory for a hundred years, under the current ideology they espouse they still wouldn't have a diplomatic relationship with other countries. "Diplomacy" means that both sides are willing to offer something to each other. Islamic State is founded on the very simple idea that their version of Islam is superior to every other way of life and that they will impose it on everyone else. They want nothing less than global domination.

The fact that their tactics for dealing with other nations has been to try to scare them indicates what we're dealing with. They've already claimed responsibility for an attack in the US. They've essentially declared war on the world.

Remember that a state that declares war on another removes all diplomatic ties. So you could say that it's equivalent to a rogue state, but on a completely different level to any other in modern times. Even North Korea and Iran don't use every capability they have to try to expand. IS will, and everyone knows that.

I seriously doubt that there will ever be any communication that doesn't involve missiles and bullets.


Posted 2015-05-22T04:19:37.570

Reputation: 1 769

What about desert areas? How do you determine if it is under Daesh or the legal State's control? – Bregalad – 2015-05-22T20:15:11.167

2"You should remember that the only difference between a terrorist organization and a state is what people call them" well, no. While some organizations function as both, a terrorist organization is just an organization using violence against civilians for political gain. While some terrorist organizations do, there is no requirement that they provide government services. e.g. Hamas and Gaza kind of constitute a state, al-Qaida does not. – Publius – 2015-05-23T00:23:10.180

@Bregalad, It'll be whoever has people in the area. If neither, then it's a no man's land and irrelevant. – PointlessSpike – 2015-05-26T06:42:49.970

@Avi, Any organisation that acts both as a state and a terrorist organisation is generally seen as a state waging war, or alternatively sponsoring terrorism. They're not seen as directly being a terrorist organisation. IS is a little different because their borders are always changing and their actions are still not what people expect from a state but are what people expect from terrorists. – PointlessSpike – 2015-05-26T06:50:22.177

@PointlessSpike Maybe it's irrelevant, but very large parts of Irak (and to a lesser extent, Syria) are no-mans land desert. Depending on how you count them it will make a very significant changes of how much territory does Daesh control. – Bregalad – 2015-05-26T10:25:08.460

"Territory" is irrelevant. What matters is the resources you're controlling. A farmer could be seen to control a desert if he's the only one there. But if there's a resource worth protecting, and IS control (and benefit from) that resource, they get more powerful. If they're wasting manpower protecting a desert, that actually makes them less powerful. – PointlessSpike – 2015-05-27T06:41:41.087