Definition of a State in Political Science and the Stand About the ISIS state in Syria and Iraq

Definition of a State in Political Science and the Stand About the ISIS state in Syria and Iraq

In political science, a state is defined as a particular territory under which people in it are ruled and governed through coercive power. However, a region qualifies to be called a country if it entails the following four properties; the territory should be defined, sovereign, a permanent population, and an active government. These are the four properties that are always put into consideration to counter check if a particular region qualifies to be called a state. Therefore, if a territory lacks of these four properties, then it does not qualify to be called a state. For instance, when examining the Islamic ISIS state during the rule of some parts of Iran and Syria, the territory that was governed by the Islam in for the three years here does not qualify to be called under ideal terms of a state. This paper, therefore, seeks to elaborate as to why the Islamic state in some parts in Syria and Iraq does not qualify to be called a state as it was perceived to be.

Firstly, I do not agree with the statement that ISIS was a state since it did not attain the requirements of being a sovereign state. This is because the sovereign power is the total exercise of authority and control over the borders of its territory and should be known by the international society and other social organizations (Nielsen, 201. When the sovereign power is evident, there is nobody who can challenge or oppose this state. However, the international communities like the UN were against the ISIS, and other international organizations called for the UN to fight it. countries like America, Britain and France and other 54 countries formed a global alliance and used other regional organizations like the NATO, the European Union, and the Arab League to subdue the ISIS. Besides, the ISIS was against the values of the sovereignty Westphalian that clears political borders. This is the sovereignty that separated Iraq and Syria.

The ISIS also does not believe in the power of sovereignty due to their religious ideology. According to them, acknowledging sovereignty is a form of idolatry, and therefore, they are not a state of independence (Nielsen, 2015). Given that one of the critical features of a country is sovereignty, then it is evident that ISIS did not record any form of autonomy in some parts of Syrian and Iraq. It should also be understood that as long as other countries do not recognize the independence of a given country, that country cannot join any international forum and even this is a vital opportunity to prove their for that reason, and I strongly disagree with the statement that ISIS is a state.

Secondly, in liaison with the definition of territory, ISIS does not qualify to be ruled as one. A region implies an area of jurisdiction under the power of a sovereign state, and it covers all the land within the borders of the country (Laub & Masters, 2016). It should be understood that territory has a close relationship with the survival of a country since it is part of the country which is a necessary condition of forming a state. This also the area under which the state executes its sovereignty and the manner that the sovereign independence of the country is manifested. For the case of ISIS, the territory is temporarily acquired and yet to e obtained by the ISIS. They do not have defined borders since they have partial control of the land they operate on. Since 2015, the ISIS state’s borderline has been controlled and minimized gradually to about 70 Km only. According to the national security agency of Afghan issued a statement where he stipulated that the head of the “Islamic state” in Afghan had been killed on August in Nangarhar’s Eastern Province. Therefore, the Territorial link of the territories that had been occupied cannot be obtained. Since a state must have a permanent land, then it implies that those who have a temporary occupation of a territory cannot form a state and as for that reason, I strongly disagree that the ISIS is a state.

Besides, a state is supposed to have a population that is permanent something that the ISIS did not have and therefore, this disqualifies it from being a state. Despite the type of people, a state is expected to have a population that belongs to it, and this population should comply with the nationality law by acquiring nationality and registration (Laub & Masters, 2016). When the population is stable, then there will be a stable region which thus implies that the state is permanent. People in stable states make up a country. For the case of the ISIS, the Territory that they had occupied in Syria has effectively been reoccupied by the forces of the government of Syria, Kurdish organizations and the anti-government forces. The contemporary war between the Syrian Government and the ISIS has steered the death of more than 200,000 citizens. Due to the occupation of some cities in Northern Iraq by Syrian, there are more than five million people that have fled to the neighboring countries to seek refuge. However, there are rumors that the refugees provided their passports, the entire world still believes that the passports are a form of propaganda of the terrorists in an attempt of creating a false image to the outside world that the Islamic State is legitimate. It is evident that the ISIS lacks a stable population in the Territory that they occupied. The primary aspect of creating a state has a stable society. The ISIS requires a permanent population within its jurisdiction, and therefore I disagree in recognizing it as a state.

Based on the concept of an effective government, the ISIS cannot be recognized as a state since it lacks a stable and effective government. A valid government is the one that is acknowledged by its citizens and accepted by other countries internationally. The government executes the state authority, and the vital tasks of the state are conducted by the government which implies that the Government is a state corporate system that operates on behalf of the country. The primary functions of a government in a state are to maintain law and order, enforce decisions and offer public services to its people. For the case of the ISIS, it has a government that is not recognized internationally, and it has no right to protecting its territory (Israeli, 2017). Despite the Islamic state having four committees i.e. counselling, religion, security and military where the security and the military have a monopoly of power, with a less population of the Islamic residents believing in this Islamic state, the ISIS cannot even attempt to become part of international organizations like the UN (Jacob, 2016). This is because of the stated principles of UN membership chatter. As for that reason, the ISIS lacks a stable government, and with no government, there is no state, and thus I disagree.

Another vital element required in forming a state is the capacity to join relationships with other nations. This evident through a state having total ability to enhance external relations; however, that does not imply that other countries will comply with the state’s economic, diplomatic and other ties with them. The issue of capacity is what that separates minor groups like members of the federal that lack jurisdiction over their foreign affairs and are not acknowledged as complete members of the international society (Israeli, 2017). It is also evident that countries across the globe have distanced themselves for being related to the ISIS state. For instance, the British government conducted an air strike on the base of the ISIS in Cyprus where they destroyed dangerous weapons of the ISIS and other armed escort trucks. Also, a coalition between Russia and Syria forces bombarded attacks on the Islamic State in an attempt of flushing it out. This, therefore, implies that the ISIS faces a significant challenge in developing relations with other states since many countries want the ISIS disbanded more than thinking of establishing relationships with them. The Islamic state, therefore, lacks the formal capacity of developing and enhancing diplomatic relations with other countries which thus implies that it cannot be recognized as a state. As for that reason, I disagree that ISIS is a state.

In conclusion, it is essential to understand that a state is a legal, political entity that comprises of state elements like sovereignty, territory, people, and organization. A nation is a body that is dominant in a given area and has its people residing there permanently with a government as an institution that executes power within the jurisdiction of the state. Generally, a state is permanent, and the government will keep on changing as per the existing political organizations. Therefore, the ISIS should not be recognized as a state but rather be considered a political rebel group in the region. This is because it lacks sovereignty, a stable government, a territory, calm people and other injustices that hinders its capabilities of building international relationships in the global society. Hence, the ISIS in times of its rule of some parts in Syria and Iraq cannot be recognized as a state.




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Israeli, R. (2017). The Internationalization of ISIS. doi:10.4324/9781315132716

Jacob, E. D. (2016). Sovereignty and Security: 9/11, the Arab Spring, and ISIS. Rethinking Security in the Twenty-First Century, 93-104. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-52542-0_7

Laub, Z., & Masters, J. (2016). The Islamic State. Council on Foreign Relations10.

Nielsen, R. A. (2015). Does the Islamic State believe in sovereignty?. The Washington Post.