Islamic State of Iraq and Syria


When you hear the abbreviati­on “ISIS”, what comes to mind? Is it beheadings, hostages, world-wide chaos or a mix of many things? Lately, different forms of media throughout the world have been providing us with an extensive coverage of the ISIS and its ongoing threats. Many laymen have started to question if its actions are politicall­y or religiousl­y motivated, and what the world leaders are doing about the situation. Now let’s take a look at “ISIS” and understand its impact on the global stage.

What is the ISIS?

The ISIS, whose former name was Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was formed in April 2013. It is a Sunni extremist jihadist group in the Middle East that follows Al-qaeda’s hard-line ideology and adheres to global jihadist principles. ISIS’ ideology is much more extreme and violent than Al-qaeda, leading to its ousting and detachment from Al-qaeda in February 2014.

The ISIS is recognised by many other countries such as the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Indonesia and Saudi Arabia as a terrorist group. The objective of ISIS is to carve out a Sunni Islamic state by bringing the Musliminha­bited regions in the world under its control. There is fear that even our neighbour, Malaysia, will not be spared. In June 2014, The Economist reported that ISIS may have up to 6,000 fighters in Iraq and 3,000–5,000 in Syria, including perhaps 3,000 foreigners. ISIS has since enjoyed considerab­le military success, as seen in the takeover of the Syrian City of Raqqa which is the first provincial capital to fall under rebel control.


Western countries view the ISIS as posing three principal threats - a possible collapse of the Iraqi state, an increase in bloody sectarian violence across state boundaries and continued recruitmen­t and training of potential jihadists coming from the West. Of the three threats, recruiting Western jihadists is the key concern for Western security forces. Once these young jihadists return to their countries of origin, they would bring with them battle-hardened experience and a radical ideology that rejects Western democratic pluralism.

This internatio­nal recruitmen­t is particular­ly dangerous as jihadist groups have exploited violent sectariani­sm to spread their message. So what are leaders around the world doing about ISIS and its threats?

In September 2014, President Obama announced that he will expand the military campaign against ISIS. While this is an appropriat­e reaction to the growing number of threats against the US and the rest of the world, the President’s goal of destroying the ISIS has been deemed by critics to be unrealisti­c. His emphasis on working with the Syrian opposition also appears questionab­le. To build the capacity to degrade ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, the Obama administra­tion may need Sunni Arab countries as well as Iran and Russia to play a role in influencin­g the Syria’s Assad regime. Some are also in support of a modest surge of US forces into the area, including the Special Forces. However, any Western action in Iraq must be done in conjunctio­n with regional actors that have the ability to affect the situation on the ground.

The ISIS’ challenge to internatio­nal order

The ISIS has immense self-confidence in its leadership. Regionally, the ISIS challenges the legitimacy of the prevailing order at two levels.

Firstly ISIS challenges the territoria­l dispensati­on that has prevailed since the 1916 Sykes–picot Agreement that split the region into British and French “spheres of influence”. The ISIS’ rejection of existing boundaries between Iraq and Syria indicates that the artificial borders set up in 1916 are no longer functional. This stands as an enduring symbol of betrayal and humiliatio­n for the Arab world.

Secondly, the ISIS follows Al Qaeda’s precedent in challengin­g the most foundation­al principles of today’s global order. It is fighting hard to ensure that political authority is institutio­nalised in a universal system of sovereign nation states rather than anchored in a common system of religious authority. This may appear to Westerners as an absurd totalitari­an fantasy, but this is ISIS’ way of handling a situation that they strongly feel is a result of Western imperialis­m designed to keep the Islamic community estranged from God and from one another, as well as hostage to a toxic Western secular modernity.

The role of Iran

There has also been much speculatio­n on what role, if any, Iran should play in the current crisis. Undoubtedl­y, as the Iraqi government’s most important regional ally and the dominant Shia power in the Middle East, Iran has an interest in ensuring that militant Sunnis do not gain a permanent foothold on its border. For many years, the West has ignored Iran’s interests, which has contribute­d to its government’s meddling in the region. Iran has reportedly already sent forces to Iraq, something which could potentiall­y contribute to the brewing Sunni-shia schism in Iraq. Whilst some have called for the US to partner with Iran to combat the ISIS, this partnershi­p would drasticall­y complicate the scenario in Syria. This is because though Iran and the US share the same short-term intent in Iraq, both have very different long-term interests in the region.

The future

Militarise­d action by the West risks ‘mission creep’ being drawn into the Syrian conflict, and potentiall­y supporting one side in the broader Sunni-shia rivalry. The US has proven itself incapable of successful­ly stabilisin­g Iraq in the long term through military force, and there is little evidence to suggest that there is the political will or a strategy in place to once again occupy Iraq with a large Us-led force.

The West may be best served by pushing for Prime Minister Nouri al-maliki’s resignatio­n in favour of a unity government. However, it also cannot allow ISIS to overrun Baghdad or other major centres in Iraq. If needed, military action should be limited in its scope and should be pursued in combinatio­n with pushing for internal political change. Without a change in government, Iraq will continue to be plagued by violent sectariani­sm – a situation that western military power alone cannot overcome.

If a big power like the US is unable to contain the present situation, what could an individual like you possibly do? Well, you could take in informatio­n from the media objectivel­y and refrain from being easily swayed by extremist thoughts!


http://www.theguardia­ http://tonyblairf­aithfounda­­s/commentari­es/background­er/what-isis­ns/­nal_order­on_in_iraq_(2014%e2%80%93present)!/

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 ??  ?? Watch an interview with an ISIS teen soldier and Share your thoughts on ISIS’S use of young, impression­able teens to fight their cause.
Watch an interview with an ISIS teen soldier and Share your thoughts on ISIS’S use of young, impression­able teens to fight their cause.
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 ??  ?? How has ISIS affected the people living in areas of conflict? Catch a glimpse!
How has ISIS affected the people living in areas of conflict? Catch a glimpse!
 ??  ?? CNN’S coverage on the recent murder of a Jordan pilot
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