Tuesday, 24 June 2014

ISIS: Scurrying towards Baghdad

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.

A Homeland for All or for some?

Ottoman Empire and Middle East only 100 years ago this week

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.

Iran and the geopolitics

Nothing But the Truth: On the origins of ISIS, Iraq's current mess and Iran's role in Iraq

 

ISIS's threat to Baghdad and by extension Maliki's government has brought Iran and US closer together. Iran has not experience the destabilization that is happening to its neighbors yet. Iran is a literal island of stability in a Middle East that is gradually becoming destabilized at national and societal level brought on by the three decades of growing CIA backed takfiri groups or organizations beginning with the 1979 Invasion of Afghanistan. Iran might have inspired Islamic Revolution and continues to support Hezbullah and Shia militias fighting against Maliki's government. However, Iran has done everything possible to avoid blowback or the chickens coming home to roast in its own territory. Terrorist bombings have occurred in Tehran, Baluchistan provinces and smaller cities across Iran from 1980s onward. Iranians have been victims of terrorism abroad and violent killings at home by Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters from neighboring Afghanistan. The Iranian embassy was attacked in Lebanon 2013 by suicide bombers from Al Qaeda's affiliate Abdullah Azam Brigades as blowback for supporting Hezbullah fighters and Syrian government during the ongoing war in Syria. The Iranian government is constantly seeking the need to halt Al Qada, Taliban and other Takfiri/Salafi groups from creating chaos and instability.
 

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