Creation of Islamic State (ISIS) in Middle East: A Famous and Hot topic for SSB Interview
|Map of ISIS|
World War I witnessed the defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, under which most Arab countries had lived for centuries and which had served as some kind of protection against European rule. Syria had been under the ultimate authority of the Ottoman administration for more than 400 years.
Geographically, Syria consisted of a number of Ottoman vilayets(administrative divisions), currently comprising Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. After the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, new national identities, citizenship and social class came to coexist.
Soon after the Allied Powers occupation after the World War, the settlement began to take final form: a boundary was drawn roughly halfway across Syria from east to west, dividing the Syrian rectangle into two parts.
The southern part, called Palestine, was assigned to Great Britain; the northern part, called Syria and Lebanon, was assigned to France.
Hence the divisions were made without giving any relevance to ethnicity and religion. This is perhaps at the root cause of the present day Middle East problem.
Reasons for Growing ISIS Influence
ISIS’s original aim was to establish a caliphate in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq. Following its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, this expanded to include controlling Sunni-majority areas of Syria.
Iraq is a Shia dominated country and frequent sectarian conflicts between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis during the Iraq War sponsored by USA, is one of the major reasons for trouble in Iraq.
Consequent to the Iraq War, the democratically elected Shia Government, under Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made laws and regulations that favoured the Shias. Hence, ISIS influence grew significantly, gaining support in Iraq due to alleged economic and political discrimination against Iraqi Sunnis.
To gain sympathy and become a popular outfit, ISIS runs a soft-power program in the areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, which includes social services, religious lectures for local populations. It also performs civil tasks such as repairing roads and maintaining the electricity supply.
Finally, a caliphate was proclaimed on 29 June 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named as its caliph, and the group was renamed the Islamic State.
Recruitment and Strength of ISIS Fighters
It is estimated that, ISIS may have up to 50,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, including perhaps 3,000 foreigners; nearly a thousand are reported to hail from Chechnya and perhaps 500 or so more from France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe.
Even India Mujahedeen is reported to be actively recruiting cadres for Jihad. In fact, the news of first Indian casualty of one of the four jihadists that had joined ISIS was revealed on 28 Aug 2014.
Funding of Movement
It has been revealed that the organization had assets worth US$2 billion, making it the richest jihadist group in the world.
About three quarters of this sum is said to be represented by assets seized after the group captured Mosul in June 2014; this includes possibly up to US$429 million looted from Mosul's central bank, along with additional millions and a large quantity of gold bullion stolen from a number of other banks in Mosul.
The group is widely reported as receiving funds from private donors in the Gulf States, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The group is also believed to receive considerable funds from its operations in Eastern Syria, where it has commandeered oilfields and engages in smuggling out raw materials and archaeological artifacts.
ISIS also generates revenue from producing crude oil and selling electric power in northern Syria. Some of this electricity is reportedly sold back to the Syrian government.
Weapons and Equipment
ISIS has been able to strengthen its military capability by capturing large quantities and varieties of weaponry during the Syrian Civil War and Post-U.S. Iraq insurgency.
Weaponry that ISIS has reportedly captured and employed include SA-7 and Stinger surface-to-air missiles, M79 Osa, HJ-8 and AT-4 Spigot, anti-tank weapons, Type 59 field guns and M198 howitzers, Humvees, T-54/55 and T-72 main battle tanks, M1117 armoured cars,truck mounted DShK guns, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns,BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers and at least one Scud missile.
When ISIS captured Mosul Airport in June 2014, it seized a number of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and cargo planes that were stationed there. However, it seems unlikely that ISIS would be able to deploy them.
ISIS captured nuclear materials from Mosul University in July 2014. However, nuclear experts regarded the threat as insignificant. International Atomic Energy Agency has said that the seized materials were "low grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk"
Threat to Yazidi Community of Iraq
The Yazidis are ethnically Kurdish, and are one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, who have kept alive their religion for centuries, despite many years of oppression and threatened extermination.
Reports that Islamic militants have trapped up to 40,000 members of Iraq’s minority communities have spurred the US into considering a military-led humanitarian action.
Roughly 130,000 residents of the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar have fled to Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan to the north, or to Irbil.
Chronology of Events Leading to ISIS Resurgence
- 3 January: ISIS proclaimed an Islamic state in Falluja. After prolonged tensions, the Syrian rebel forces launched an offensive against ISIS-held territory in the Syrian.
- By 6 January, Syrian rebels had managed to expel ISIS forces from the city of Ar-Raqqah, ISIS's largest stronghold and capital of Ar-Raqqah province. Several weeks later ISIS took the city back.
- 25 January: ISIS announced the creation of its new Lebanese arm, pledging to fight the Shia militant group Hizbullah and its supporters in Lebanon.
- 3 February: al-Qaeda's general command broke off its links with ISIS, reportedly to concentrate the Islamist effort on unseating President Bashar al-Assad.
- 1 May: ISIS carried out a total of seven public executions in the city of Ar-Raqqah, in northern SyriaJune 2014
- In early June, following its large-scale offensives in Iraq, ISIS was reported to have seized control of most of Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq, a large part of the surrounding Niveveh Province and the city of Fallujah. ISIS also took control of Tikrit the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate, with the ultimate goal of capturing Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
- Also in June, there were reports that a number of Sunni groups in Iraq that were opposed to the predominantly Shia government had joined ISIS, thus bolstering the group's numbers. However, the Khurds, who are mostly Sunnis in the northeast of Iraq, were unwilling to be drawn into the conflict, and there were clashes in the area between ISIS and the Kurdish.
- 5 June: ISIS militants stormed the city of Samarra, Iraq, before being ousted from the city by airstrikes.
- 6 June: ISIS militants carried out multiple attacks in the city of Mosul, Iraq.
- 7 June: ISIS militants took over the University of Anbar in Ramadi, Iraq and held 1,300 students hostage, before being ousted by the Iraqi military.
- 9 June: Mosul fell to ISIS control. The militants seized control of government offices, the airport, and police stations and also looted the Central Bank in Mosul. Mosul is a strategic city as it is at a crossroad between Syria and Iraq, and poses the threat of ISIS seizing control of oil production.
- 11 June: ISIS seized the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission and several staff members. ISIS seized the Iraqi city of Tikrit.
- 15 June: ISIS militants captured the Iraqi city of Tal Afar, in the province of Nineveh. ISIS claimed that 1,700 Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered in the fighting had been killed, and released many images of mass executions via its Twitter feed and various websites.
- 22 June: ISIS militants captured two key crossings in Anbar, a day after seizing the border crossing at Al Qaim a town in a province which borders Syria. According to analysts, capturing these crossings could aid ISIS in transporting weapons and equipment to different battlefields.
- 25 June: The Al Nusra branch in the Syrian town of al- Bukamal pledged loyalty to ISIS, thus bringing months of fighting between the two groups to a close.
- 25 June: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraq had purchased use of Sukoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus to battle ISIS militants.
- 26 June: Iraq launched its first counterattack against ISIS's advance with an airborne assault designed to seize back control of Tikrit University.
- 29 June: ISIS announced the establishment of a New Caliphate Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was appointed its Caliph.
- 2 July: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the new Islamic State, said that Muslims should unite to capture Rome in order to "own the world." He called on Muslims the world over to unite behind him as their leader.
- 3 July: ISIS captured Syria's largest oilfield from rival Islamist fighters, al Nusra Front, who put up no resistance to the attack. Taking control of the al-Omar oilfield gave ISIS access to potentially useful crude oil reserves.
- 24 July: Residents in the area said that ISIS had erased a piece of Iraqi heritage. Johah's tomb was also an important holy site in the Jewish heritage as well.
- 6 July: ISIS blew up the Shia shrine in Mosul and took artifacts from the shrine to an unknown location.
- 28 July: To mark the Muslim holy festival of Eid ul Fitr which ends the period of Ramadan, ISIS released and circulated a 30-minute video showing graphic scenes of mass executions.
- The UN reported that of the 1,737 fatal casualties of the Iraq conflict during July, 1,186 were civilians.
- 2 August: The Iraqi Army confirmed that 37 loyalist fighters had died during combat with Islamic State militants south of Baghdad, and in Mosul
- 2 August: ISIS and its al Nusra Front allies invade Lebanon, sparking a five day battle between them and the Lebanese army, who push ISIS back across the border into Syria. Over a hundred fighters were killed, and scores of civilians were killed or wounded.
- 3 August: IS fighters occupied the city of Zumar and an oilfield in the north of Iraq, after a battle against Kurdish forces.
- 5 August: IS offensive in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq had forced 30,000–50,000 Yazidis to flee into the mountains, fearing they would be killed by the IS. They had been threatened with death if they refused conversion to Islam.
- 6 August: The Islamic State kidnapped 400 Yazidi women in Sinjar to sell them as sex slaves.
- 7 August: IS fighters took control of the town of Qaraqosh in the province of Nineveh in northern Iraq, which forced its large Christian population to flee.
- 7 August: President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS, along with airdrops of aid. The UK offered the US assistance with surveillance and refueling, and planned humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees.
- 8 August: The US asserted that the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State was genocide. The US military launched indefinite airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters, equipment and installations, with humanitarian aid support from the UK and France, in order to protect civilians in northern Iraq. The Islamic State had advanced to within 30 km of Erbil in northern Iraq.
- 10 August: Islamic State militants buried an unknown number of Yazidi women and children alive, in an attack that killed 500 people, in what has been described as ongoing genocide in northern Iraq.
- 11 August: The Arab League accused the Islamic State of committing crimes against humanity. The UK decided not to join the US in airstrikes and instead stepped up its humanitarian aid to refugees.
- 12 August: The parents of kidnapped American journalist James Foley received an email from his captors. The US announced that it would not extend its airstrikes against the Islamic State to areas outside northern Iraq, emphasizing that the objective of the airstrikes was to protect US diplomats in Arbil. The US and the UK airdropped 60,000 litres of water and 75,000 meals for stranded refugees.
- 13 August: Islamic State jihadists seized control of six villages near the Turkish border in the northern province of Aleppo in Syria.
- 15 August: The UN Security Council issued a resolution which "deplores and condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts of ISIL (Islamic State) and its violent extremist ideology, and its continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law."
- 16 August: The Islamic State massacred 80 Yazidis.
- 17 August: US air campaign, began an offensive to take back the strategic Mosul Dam from the Islamic State, amid fears that the destruction of the dam might unleash a 65-foot wave of water that could engulf the northern city of Mosul, and even flood Baghdad.
- 19 August: The Islamic State now has an army of more than 50,000 fighters in Syria.
- 22 August: American journalist James Foley was beheaded by the Islamic State on video tape.