Check out my new article for Foreign Policy: "ISIS Is Dead, Long Live the Islamic State"

On the first night of Ramadan, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced a step that he described as “a dream that lives in the depths of every Muslim believer”: the re-establishment of the Caliphate. “It is a hope that flutters in the heart of every mujahid [one who does jihad] muwahhid [monotheist],”spokesman Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami went on. “It is the caliphate. It is the caliphate — the abandoned obligation of the era…. We clarify to the Muslims that with this declaration of the caliphate, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the caliph [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi].”
The announcement by the group, which is now calling itself simply the Islamic State (IS), will accelerate the backlash against it in Iraq. The Islamic State has worked with other insurgent factions, such as the ex-Baathists in the JRTN (Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order), in its recent offensive in Iraq — but has no intention of power-sharing in the captured areas. There were already signs that JRTN and IS were beginning to fight one another, and this announcement will likely push things into an open confrontation. The Islamic State, however, views this as a positive development because it will separate those who believe inhaqq [truth] from batil [falsehood]. It believes the announcement will also serve as another direct shot at al Qaeda and its official branches.
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