ISIS Declares A New Islamic Caliphate; Now What?

In a direct challenge to rival terror group Al-Qaeda, ISIS has announced the formation of a new Islamic caliphate stretching across Syria and Iraq.
Posted at 8:56 AM, Jun 30, 2014

The jihadi militants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, say they've lived up to their name — finally reaching their ultimate goal of setting up a Muslim caliphate.

​Jihadists across the two countries celebrated the news that ISIS has renamed itself simply the Islamic State, demanding allegiance from Muslims worldwide. But the move is more than just a name change. (Via YouTube / مركز الرقة الإعلامي بديل)

“This is like a map of the border. This is Iraq, This is Sham. But now this is one country." (Via YouTube / omar omz

In addition to that video, ISIS released this statement, boasting of the end of European-drawn boundaries. The time has come for those generations that were drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people.” ​(Via AlHayat Media Center

Propaganda aside, at this point, it’s a bit unclear what sort of impact the newly-declared caliphate will have on the current situation. Analysts say a lot hinges on the reactions from local Sunnis.

“They can set up an Islamic state, but can they govern it? That’s where it always falls down. Will these people want to live under that draconian Islamist, Sharia law.” (Via CNN

Also key, is how its rival Al-Qaeda reacts. And so far, no word yet. Though its likely the announcement will only further increase infighting between the two groups just months after Al-Qaeda disowned ISIS. (Via YouTube /Nasrunmin Allah)

“Al-Qaeda, they were the top dogs, really, in the jihadist movement for so long, and now we have got these other usurpers coming forward, so I think there is a real concern about the tensions that might now emerge.” (Via Sky News

Or as the Brookings Institution’s Charles Lister said on Twitter: "Al-Qaeda Central is in massive trouble now. Welcome to the new era of international jihad.”

But there's another way to look at it. Terrorism analyst J.M. Berger writes in The Daily Beast the bold move could backfire. “The backlash may harden the pro-AQ segment of the global jihadist movement against ISIS, especially with the announcement's flat out demand that all other jihadist groups are religiously obligated to pledge loyalty to ISIS.”

ISIS's announcement came as the Iraqi military carried out airstrikes on Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in an effort to push back the militants.