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The recent declaration of a caliphate by the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is an unprecedented event in modern times.Not since the Turkish Republic abolished the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 has any Muslim group in control of territory made such a bid. Nonetheless, with Baghdadi at its helm, the Islamic State is convinced that its new caliphate will – indeed, is supposed to – flourish.Whether the announcement of the new caliphate turns out to be politically significant, however, remains to be seen.The first is the Islamic State's continued military success, and its ability to maintain and consolidate its control of territory. Even Ayman al-Zawahri, Al-Qaeda's current leader, views Baghdadi as an extremist, and has taken steps to distance his group from the Islamic State.But many jihadist groups and individuals, particularly young people, have signaled their support for the caliphate. Whether this new caliphate succeeds or not, religious violence in the Arab world will likely get worse before the region gets better.
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