The main purpose of The Caliphate at War is to elucidate and explain the Islamic State in a comprehensive way. The book reveals the historical evolution of the ISIS in a clear and detailed way, perfectly revealing the ups and downs in the evolution of ISIS, while focusing on its ideology, organization, and war-fighting and state-building enterprises.
The book consists of six chapters. The first introductory chapter describes Hashim’s methodology; in the second chapter, entitled “The Unlucky Country,” the author focuses on Iraq’s historical, political, and cultural environment from ancient Mesopotamia to recent history. Hashim makes a special focus on the periods of the Baathist regime, the U.S. invasion (2003-2011), and the post-withdrawal period (2011-2017) in order to perfectly understand the Islamic State. The reason for this special focus is that “the Iraq’s recent history has provided the fertile ground within which IS emerged and thrived” (p. 8). In addition, Hashim examines Shia and Sunni groups and their relations with the government during these periods.
The third chapter, “Why They Fight,” deals with the ideology and goals of ISIS. It reveals the ideological contestations between ISIS and other local and foreign actors. Hashim points out that the actors with which ISIS was in conflict include the U.S., the Sunni groups who participated in the political processes, the Shias, and the Kurds. In this chapter, Hashim also examines the insurgency against the U.S. invasion and its failure. The insurgency consisted of five groups: Iraqis from the former regime, nationalists, tribal elements, various local Islamist fighters, and the transnational Islamist group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which was the early version of what is known today as the Islamic State. Hashim states that the insurgency failed because there were competing visions, goals, and different ideas about the operational methods between these groups. T