‘The deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria may now have gone too far to re-create genuinely unitary states.’ So writes Patrick Cockburn towards the end of The Jihadis Return, a remarkably timely intervention that explores the recent history and present dynamics of what Cockburn terms ‘al’Qa’ida type movements’, foremost amongst which is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). It is a gloomy prognosis, one which represents the final nail in the already-rotten coffin of the American-led invasion of Iraq and its efforts to bring ‘democracy’ to that country. However, as Cockburn shows, the rise of ISIS has implications not only for the legacy of Western military interventionism in the region, but also for the way in which the Arab Spring may come to be viewed historically.

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