Strategy Page has an excellent piece on Iraq’s ISIL and the political crisis there. Here are some of the most salient points.
- ISIL is Al Qaeda’s arm in Syria and Iraq.
- ISIL began as ISI or “Islamic State in Iraq” and was seeking to regain power for Sunni Muslims. “…
- “…after U.S. forces left in 2011 the Iraqi government failed to follow U.S. advice to take good care of the Sunni tribes, if only to keep the tribes from again supporting the Islamic terrorist groups. Instead the Shia led government turned against the Sunni population and stopped providing government jobs and regular pay for many of the Sunni tribal militias. Naturally many Sunni Arabs went back to supporting terror groups, especially very violent ones like ISI.”
- ISIL was created in 2013, uniting with terrorists from other nations, especially Syria.
- ISIL is known for its particularly harsh treatment of civilians. This creates tensions between ISIL and other groups, especially Al Qaeda, who know from experience that such treatment had a way of making these groups unpopular (for lack of a better word) amongst Muslims.
- With Saudi Arabia in the mix, things have gotten quite messy:
It is a problem for Saudi Arabia because the Saudis finance al Nusra and some of the other Islamic terrorist rebels in Syria that are now at war with ISIL. To the Saudis such support is the lesser of two evils as ISIL is crippling rebel efforts to overthrow the Assad government. This is also part of the ideological war the Saudis (and most other Sunni Moslems) are fighting with Shia Iran (and its Shia allies the Assads and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon). Meanwhile the Saudis continue crushing the Sunni Islamic terrorists that try to attack them at home. This includes local members of ISIL. All this sounds somewhat bizarre, with Saudi Arabia funding missionaries that create Islamic terrorists who become uncontrollable and seem to overthrow the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Absurd it may be, but it is a familiar pattern in this part of the world where religion and politics have long been intertwined in absurd and tragic ways.
- ISIL’s power in Iraq is currently wide but shallow, concentrating on striking out at security forces, which increased ISIL’s power with Iraqi officials.
- This year, ISIL has managed to gain control of several northern Iraqi cities, then moved south and took control of Tikrit, the home of Saddam Hussein. ISIL now has control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
- ISIL took control of the Turkish consulate, holding 49 people there prisoner. This situation is on-going, with some Turks calling for military intervention but the Turkish government has stalled. It has been several weeks, and there is no resolution.
George argues that on controversial issues, traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs are actually rationally superior to secular liberal alternatives.