Yet another threat to Iraq’s peace

After the recent events in Iraq, examines ISIS, the militant group that spreads fear in the region

On June 9, 2014 the Islamic fundamentalists opened a new front in their struggle to establish an Islamic state, launching attacks at Iraqi territories. Since then several areas have fallen under Sunni control, who warn that Bagdad soon would be occupied. Thousands flee amid reports of atrocities by the rebel Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Officials in Iraq are alarmed, with a representative of the highest Shia authority, Grand Ayatollah Alli Sistani has urged for a common line against the militant group and his representative, while Sheikh Abdul Mahdi Karbalai notes that the ‘danger could-spread’ and peace and security in the entire region would be disturbed.

Photo credit: Stephen Melkisethian

Photo credit: Stephen Melkisethian

Who’s ISIS?

ISIS (Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant- last “s” of “Isis” comes from the Arabic word “al-Sham”, meaning Levant) is a jihadist militant group aiming at establishing a “de facto state in the borderlands of Syria and Iraq”, an Islamic state across Middle East. To the present day they have managed to get control over several territories in Iraq, while they are warning that Bagdad will be next. Due to their economic gains, which are estimated to have reached £2 billion, and their control and operation of a great stretch of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, ISIS seem ready to fight a war, demonstrating how fragile and vulnerable the Iraqi state is.

ISIS are infamous for their brutally, i.e kill by shotgun, with some arguing that the jihadist group is worse than Al- Qaida. Professionally made propaganda videos show ISIS forcing families with sons in the Iraqi army to dig their own graves before they are shot. The message conveyed is that their enemies should not expect any mercy.
ISIS is highly fanatical, killing Shia Muslims and Christians whenever possible, as well as militarily efficient and under tight direction by top leaders. The Isis tactic is to make a surprise attack, inflict maximum casualties and spread fear before withdrawing without suffering heavy losses.

Their leader is Abu Bark Al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi leads the front and inspires recruits, including many fighters who are foreigners. ISIS specialises in using militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers. So far more than 500 youths has been said to have left England and joined ISIS’s ranks. ISIS is present in social media, making daily several posts.

What one can say about the rise of ISIS, is that it is associated with the uprising of the Sunni in Syria back in the 2011. In that same year the Iraqi Sunni protested about their political and economic marginalisation since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Demonstrations from the end of 2012 won few concessions, with Iraq’s Shia-dominated government claiming that the protesters did not want reform but a revolution bringing them back to power.

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