While the World Cup in Brazil has most of the world's undivided attention, ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or more commonly refereed to as ISIL Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have been moving swiftly towards the Iraqi capital Baghdad. ISIS militants recently captured Mosul in Northern Iraq causing both the Iraqi Army and hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee South to safer cities and areas. Iraqi PM Nouri al Maliki has failed to halt the rise and strength of Takfiri groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda in Iraq. Even Al Qaeda disowned ISIS for its extreme brutality towards civilians and enemy combatants. Both groups have been hardening their combat experience in Syria against Bashir Assad, the wider Syrian government and civilians both government and Syrian supporters. ISIS has taken its brutality and terrorist attacks against civilians to higher levels than Hezbullah and other splinter Takfiri/Salafi groups also battling in Syria for control. On the highway to Baghdad, ISIS also overran Ramadi. While ISIS militants can't shake Assad and Syrian government seems to be regaining control in Aleppo and going after rebels and Takfiri militants in other cities around Damascus, ISIS is determine to win control in an unstable Iraq. When ISIS does reach Baghdad, if it is successful, ISIS would've opened the dangerous Pandora box it and its violent cousins have unleashed in Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Nigeria.
ISIS has stated it seeks to undo the Sykes-Picot Agreement that European colonialists created the current jigsaw puzzle of the Middle East countries that were previously governed by Ottoman Empire. Known in Arabic as Bilad as Shams, the Levant or formerly as Near East, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine-Israel as well as tiny Kuwait were once regarded as a single territory. The Ottoman Empire treated the region as such throughout its 500 year reign and so did the people. Pan Arabism also encouraged the creation of a large Arab homeland extending from the Persian Gulf to North Africa instead of partitioning the territory into nation-state. That is until World War I, when nationalist ideas and the quest to create national identities out of diverse regions to push back European colonialism shifted the view to one homeland to the need of creating a nation state for nearly every ethnic group in the region who saw themselves as distinct from their neighbors. Lebanon used to be part of Syria until 1922 when French created Lebanon originally as a majority Christian state. Palestine and Jordan used to be attached to one another was ruled as mandates by British as Transjordan and Palestine. Israel's creation add an anomaly and further confusion to the colonial jigsaw puzzle.
A Homeland for All or for some?
|Ottoman Empire and Middle East only 100 years ago this week|