Prior to 2014, Iraq was facing a huge rise of vehicle borne IED attacks as well as suicide attacks. Majority of the attacks targeted Shiite cities and neighborhoods. In addition to these attacks, parts of the Middle East began to see the once all mighty dictator fall to the pressure of not only inside forces but as well as foreign intervention as well. Countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria would see challenge from the people demanding change, demanding what we called freedom. Each but one country would see their leader be forced from power. The former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi would be captured and killed by anti-Gaddafi forces, in Egypt Mubarak would step down and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi would fill in the vacancy-only to be forced out by his appointee Abdel Fattah el-Sisi- and lastly Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has managed to hold power up to this point.
Since then there has been sever tension in the Middle-East region due to the rise of ISIS or ISIL. The instability that has been produced by the fall of some of the dictators and a much exclusive system in Iraq provided the ingredients for a strong power vacuum. That vacuum has been filled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with the group capturing huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. However, as the group began to gain media attention it was time that world leaders did not understand was of importance.
The Syrian Civil War has been raging on for approximately four and a half years and continues to wage on to this day. The response from the world can be describe as lethargic and unwilling to attempt to quell the violence in the country. The only answer that foreign governments have introduced has been massive flow of weapons and military supplies. It can be said that many nations are fearful of military intervention, for one can point to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as an example to stray away from actual intervention.
As the west and other nations such as: Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have aided rebels with weapons to fight Assad forces, while Iran and Russia have been in full support of the regime by supplying them weapons as well. The problem with the fluctuation of weapons to anti-Assad forces is being able to distinguish friend from foe. The Syrian rebels are so fractured that some have pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front or other militant groups.
In addition to weapons being given to unknown organizations, ISIL has recovered a good amount of military supplies from surrendering Iraqi forces. The equipment that was surrender as ISIL made their blitzkrieg sweep through Iraq, was issued by the United States and funded by tax-payer funds. As ISIL encountered one victory after another in Iraq, it was apparent that the “junior varsity team” that President Obama famously stated in an interview with Meet the Press, the group was a much bigger threat then perceived in the beginning.
It should be noted that during their “conquest” the group was as welcoming as the Nazis were when they invaded Russia. It was reported that the group made a group of women and children to dig an huge hole and were then buried alive in the very hole they were forced to dig up. What is more alarming is the mass beheadings that the group has committed in the past year and a half and the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot.
As ISIL continues it’s atrocities the United States and it’s coalition (Europeans and including some Gulf States) have gone to an ariel warfare to attempt to “destroy” and “cripple” the organization. The battle on the ground has been taken by various groups in Iraq. As there American advisors in the country of Iraq, Iran has sent their Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimanni as an advisor to Iraqi forces. However, as reported by Reuters, Iran may already have combat forces on the ground assisting Shiite forces in Iraq to push back ISIL from the areas they have already captured. The author of the article Iran’s Elite Guards Fighting in Iraq to Push Back Islamic State, Babak Dehghanpisheh, writes “Shirkhani did not die in a battle inside Iran. He was killed nearly a hundred miles away from the Iranian border in a mortar attack by the militants of the Islamic State “while carrying out his mission to defend” a revered Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, according to a report on Basij Press, a news site affiliated with the Basij militia which is overseen by the Revolutionary Guards.” The man he mentions–Kamal Shirkhani– died in the city Samarra located deep inside of Iraq.
In addition to Iran forces playing an active role in the fighting against ISIL, the United States has continued its air campaign and has coordinated with the Iraqi forces on the ground. Furthermore, Iraqi forces have recaptured Tikirt, Saddam Huessein’s hometown but ever since then Iraqi forces have slowed down to a crawl in pushing ISIL further back. Reports have emerged that the Iraqi government would execute a large scale military attack this week in the Anbar province area of Iraq.
The announcement of the offensive maneuver can only be taken with a grain a salt because the Iraqi government made an announcement similar to this in May and the plan never turned into fruition. However, with a lackluster air campaign which has not halted the advancement of ISIL, world leaders have offered no alternative to the problem.
As they have slept at the wheel with the situation in the Middle East, ISIL has shown its presence in other parts of the region. The United States is attempting to find a North African country to allow it to base drones out of the country and allow a few hundred military personnel to man and command a drone squadron. The reason for this new strategy is to as stated by The Journal to provide U.S. Military and its intelligence agencies real time information in the country of Libya. The country has been facing de-stabilization ever since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 providing a power vacuum for the extremist group. Furthermore, the group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an Italian consulate in Egypt, luckily no one was injured or killed on the attack.
The organization once consider to be a junior varsity team is in possession of more finances than Al-Qaeda possessed before the September 11th attacks. During their blitzkrieg offense last summer, the group raided the Monsul Central Bank, taking with it five hundred billion dollars and euros mixed together, as well as some gold reserves. In addition to the stolen funds, the group has also used kidnappings and ransoms to garner funds. Lastly they have also sold oil illegally that they have seized from some of the oil fields in Iraq. It has been estimated that the group makes a million dollars a day off the black market oil that they sell.
The threat is growing stronger as the world continues to kick the can with ISIL. The problem is not whether they can be beat militarily, the problem is how do you create stability again. There is no question that the more that ISIL spreads it becomes much more difficult to control them and creates a potential conflicts on many fronts. For example even if combat forces were sent into Iraq and pushed ISIL out of the country they would go to their next safe haven, Syria. Seeing that, one can see that the problem would only re-emerge in Iraq after military forces leave the country and we would be where we started.
As the problem continues to spread and no action from world leaders in truly pushing for a joint military operation, ISIL will continue to spread like a cancer. It will use the same tactics it used in Iraq and has been using in Egypt and Libya recently. The use of suicide bombings and vehicle borne IEDs to create de-stabilization and instill fear into those citizens. This organization is a extreme to Al-Qaeda and present a much more bigger threat. With the increase of foreign fighters, world governments must not only pay close attention to the Middle East but they must also pay close attention to the security at home.
DEHGHANPISHEH, B. (2014, August 3). Iran’s Elite Guards Fighting in Iraq to Push Back Islamic State. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/03/uk-iraq-security-iran-insight-idUKKBN0G30GG20140803
PressTV-US to send drones to fight ISIL in Libya. (2015, July 13). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/07/13/420029/US-drone-military-base-North-Africa-ISIL-Libya-Iraq-Syria
ISIL claims responsibility for deadly car bomb blast at Italian consulate in Cairo. (2015, July 12). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.9news.com.au/world/2015/07/11/15/47/car-bomb-hits-italian-consulate-in-cairo
United States Department of Defense. (2015, July 11). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=129259
Miles, K. (2014, September 10). ISIS Is A Threat To U.S. Interests, Top Official Says. Here’s What’s Being Done About It. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/10/isis-threat-america_n_5788142.html
Chandler, A. (2015, July 1). ISIS Kills 50 Egyptian Soldiers in Sinai Peninsula. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2015/07/isis-kills-50-egyptian-soldiers-sinai-peninsula/116797/