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Head of the Research Department at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Siyasat Arabia.

On Wednesday, 12 October 2016, Dr. Haidar Saeed, a researcher at the Center, presented a lecture entitled "The Structure of the Islamic State Organization in Iraq and Syria", as part of the ACRPS weekly seminar series.

Dr. Saeed opened his presentation by drawing upon to ISIL ideological sources, especially the book "the Management of Savagery" attributed to Abu Bakr Naji,which is considered a fundamental source of the organization's ideology. Dr. Saeed discussed this book at length, stressing that the research behind it reveals that there is no link with ISIL, and that the connection between the two is the product of historical and contextual generalization.

Dr Haidar explained that American literature dealt with the book as an Al Qaeda source at the height of its activity in Iraq (it is in fact an Al Qaeda product, before the emergence of ISIL). The Americans were quick to treat the book as an authoritative ISIL source without exploring the contradictions and rivalry between Al Qaeda and ISIL or even showing any awareness of them. The catalyst for this hasty judgement was that the book meets the Western need to deal with ISIL as a universal danger. This indicates that the status of the book is a Western creation. It was put in its position at the forefront of the ideological sources of jihadist ideology from abroad, not from within these organizations. There is no evidence that ISIL was interested in this book or used it to fill any ideological vacuum.

Saeed went on to analyze the ISIL diacourse that followed the fall of Mosul and the declaration of the caliphate, one that aimed at establishing the ideological and doctrinal foundation of the Islamic state and the Caliphate. He explained that ISIL books, letters, texts and publications, including the jihadist ideology, do not go into detail about the form or structure of the state. Rather, they take more time to prove the feasibility of an Islamic State, and the correct method of succession. Other topics, especially political and strategic, and even confrontation with the West are almost absent from this literature. 

Saeed concluded that ISIL moved away from the idea of cross-border jihadism and confrontation with the West (the source of which is Al Qaeda) to fight a localized conflict. This is the source of the split of ISIL from Al Qaeda and, according to Saeed, the two models differ in terms of logic.The researcher summed up the study with two basic assumptions: one is that ISIL is not a continuation of al Qaeda, and the other is that it is not a phase of ideological development. That is to say, it is not a development within the decades old ideological debate about the concept of a Caliphate.

Dr. Khalil Al-Anani, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the Doha Institute for Postgraduate Studies, followed this lecture with his own discussants. This was followed by an open debate in which the attendees participated.