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Squeezed Out of Syria, ISIS’s Next Target Could Be the House of Saud


With Daesh’s self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate slowly crumbling under the pressure of attacks from all sides in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group may eventually call it quits in Mesopotamia and the Levant and move on to attack the Saudi monarchy, warns geopolitical analyst Schuyler Moore.

In her analysis, originally published by international affairs journal The Bridge, Moore, a Washington-based defense analyst, notes that as the international anti-Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) war effort ramps up, the self-proclaimed caliphate’s decline is inevitable. “Its decline may take years or even decades, but it will ultimately decline.””But although ISIS may deplete its resources and feel increasing pressure from the international community, its members will not simply disappear as the group loses momentum,” the analyst warns.

The terrorist organization, Moore recalls, “is largely comprised of foreign fighters with limited ties to the countries they fight in, and in the event of a relocation, one country in particular looks like a promising alternative – Saudi Arabia.”

“With internal unrest, the threat of oil-driven economic instability and a history of conflict with its neighbors, the House of Saud is ripe for insurgency and would be the ideal next location for jihadists looking for a new rallying point.” Thus, “as ISIS loses steam and is pushed out of its old stomping grounds, Saudi Arabia is in danger of becoming the next ground zero for terrorism in the region.”

Moore breaks down her analysis into three parts. These include ‘internal risk factors’, the Kingdom’s ‘history of radical Islamist insurgency’, and ‘external pressure’.

Domestic Pressures

Internally, the analyst writes, Saudi Arabia faces “unique demographic and socio-economic challenges” including an immigrant community which makes up nearly a third of the country’s population of 28 million and over three-quarters of the labor force. Moreover, about 70% of the population is under 30, with nearly 30% of the country’s youth unemployed.

“Nationals and non-nationals alike live under Sharia law with strict Wahhabi principles dictated by the royal family and the religious leaders of the ulmea [Saudi religious scholars], which often cause[s] strains within the immigrant population as well as the native population.”

Meanwhile, ultra-conservative religious leaders’ resistance to calls for the Kingdom’s reform and modernization, together with uncertainties caused by the hidden nature of intra-royal family politics, causes


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