The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has over the last month taken control of vast swaths of Iraq, has declared itself an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria a few days after the al-Nusra Front, the Syria Al Qaeda affiliate, was reported to have signed a "loyalty pledge" to ISIS. In the statement it released, with English translation (PDF), ISIS claims to have "demolished" the governments of Syria and Iraq, to have "disgraced" infidels and "humiliated" heretics. It also called Sunnis "masters" and "esteemed." The dick-swinging comes after the group's declaration that it had transcended race- and class-based distinctions in favor of "piety," the kind with which they "forced the noses of the cross-worshippers onto the ground with the most miserable of weapons and weakest of number."
The group also claimed that the "ummah" (the Muslim "nation" for which ISIS claims to speak) "succeeded in ending two of the largest empires known to history in just 25 years and then spent the treasure of those empires on jihad" and claimed it would be a sin for them not to declare an empire of their own, called a caliphate, with their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, naturally chosen as the caliph.
"The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organisations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph's authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas," the statement read. According to news reports in an audio statement a spokesperson followed that up with "Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day."
ISIS formed amid the Syrian civil war, when the Islamic State of Iraq, the Iraqi Al-Qaeda affiliate, joined in the hostilities. Last April, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the Iraq Al Qaeda affiliate, announced that they had merged with al-Nusra but the Syrian group denied the merger and reiterated their loyalty to Al Qaeda, which was also upset by ISI's attempt at a hostile takeover. ISI continued to fight on its own in Syria, against the government, more moderate rebels, and other jihadists, eventually becoming ISIS. The group's declaration of an Islamic state and its leaders megalomaniacal claim to be a caliph is aimed not just to the governments in the Middle East (and the world) but to Al Qaeda affiliates in the region as well.
The ability of ISIS or any jihadi group to fell an empire, as they claim such groups did to the Soviet Union (which spent its last decade mired in an occupation in Afghanistan) and the United States (whose two land wars in Asia showed it a very bad idea to wage two land wars in Asia) goes only as far as empires are willing to mire themselves in the kinds of wars and military interventions that can only benefit such groups.