The world's most feared jihadi group, the Islamic State (ISIS), is parlaying its dramatic gains in Iraq into Syria. Already flush with cash and weapons, ISIS stands to receive another, invaluable windfall in Aleppo, Syria's largest city prior to the war. Regime forces there are on the verge of encircling opposition militants. Their success in doing so would benefit ISIS as much as it would Bashar al-Assad, throttling the more moderate rebel enemy both share.
Today respected clerics exist here and there, but many Muslims see the absence of a single authority as one source of the weakness and paucity of Islamic vision in the Muslim world today. In an era when the West has repeatedly invaded Muslim countries, overthrown their leaderships, and commandeered their economic and energy sources over much of the 20th century, the weakness and lack of leadership in the Muslim world remains a vivid concern to Muslims. Thus when the term "caliphate" is invoked, it touches a chord in the historical sensibilities of many.