The Islamic State (ISIS) Not Going Away and it's a Product of the U.S.

Published: Sep 11, 2014 12:39pm EDT
By Rick Rinker, Political Editor for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Sep 11, 2014 @ 12:39pm EDT

 

 

What is the Islamic State?

 

Known by many names - Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIL, ISIS - The Islamic State - or IS for short- has emerged as a multi-billion-dollar-terror-state and it’s not going away anytime soon.

The Islamic State has systematically taken over the regions of Northern Iraq and Eastern Syria with shocking speed and unbelievable violence. It is currently the single largest threat to nations in the region from Jordan to Iran.

The stated goal of IS is to create an independent Islamic State that is fully ruled by Sharia law; It has also vowed to “kill infidels and apostates” (read: Secularists, Christians, Westerners or anyone not identifying as an Arab Sunni Jihadists in full support of the Islamic State).

So, it’s no wonder that the entire region including Lebanon, Jordan and rivals such as Iran, are now desperate for a solution in the wake of this overnight threat.

 

Unspeakable Suffering

The magnitude of mass-murder, ruthless beheadings, corpse mutilation, rape and sex trafficking have been seen for several months, with IS over-running towns, looting anything of value, murdering men, women and children, only then to occasionally auction off grieving mothers, daughters, sisters and wives as “brides.”

In the past month two American Journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, were beheaded. The killing was gruesome, unwarranted and per usual, recorded and shown on the internet for potential supporters, and opponents to see.

 

 

How we got here

The Islamic State is just another name for Al Qaeda in Iraq, which never had reason to exist under Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda in Iraq was born out of the US Invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and proceeded to remove Saddam’s Baath party from any meaningful position within the new Iraqi government.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, now IS, grew to power as Iraqi Prime Minister Al Malaki sought to marginalize Sunnis, keeping a Shia majority across the government. This disenfranchised the Sunni minority, leaving them with little to no real say in their own governance.

 Funded by wealthy opponents to the US Occupation in Iraq, it is fueled by the US’s own weaponry and equipment left behind for the Iraqi Army after US withdrawal. IS was also funded by regional opposition to Syria’s Assad regime amidst the US encouraged “Arab Spring.”

Ironically, in a rush to topple another dictator - the Assad regime in Syria - some gulf nations inadvertently ushered in funding and recruitment support for what is now known as IS. It is only now that those in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait seem to realize the global effect this hasty support has had, though it is doubtful that this error in judgment will be publicly admitted by anyone.

The funds flowing into IS are now so ingrained in a regional black-market economy that simply cutting off funding is no longer an option. IS controls several oil fields and refineries in Northern Iraq, allowing for the export of a reported 40,000 barrels of oil per day, bringing in $90M each month.

In addition to oil revenue IS has a semi-functional government which brings in tax revenue collected from “residents” of its controlled regions.

 

Where we go from here:

The Islamic State is a particularly complex problem as it crosses international boundaries, has support – albeit limited support – in the region, its own emerging economy and no way to tell which of its regional ‘residents’ are there willingly, or because the threat of execution looms over their heads and that of their family if they attempt to leave.

This is what extreme sectarian violence looks like. It is a byproduct of failed U.S. policy in which we assumed the use of military and economic strength could shape the domestic policies and popular opinion of foreign partners and client-states across the globe. We can in fact, impose our will in many places, however not without consequences.

The Obama Administration has been reluctant to use air support within Syria’s borders. Removing IS from Syria could mean Syrian President Bashar Assad’s return to power, which is not in our national interest, though at this point may be the lesser of two evils.

President Obama addressed the nation on the eve of September 11th to tell the country of the threat posed by the Islamic State to the American people. The timing of this address is dubious. It was one year ago exactly that President Obama addressed the nation to state that he would not ask congress to approve air strikes against Syria.

It is now that the national media, pundits and partisans are calling for more action, and they wanted it yesterday. Monday morning quarterbacks who don’t have to bear the responsibility for the decisions of war.

These same calls were made 13 years ago, calls for military intervention, airstrikes and war. The same calls for war made by national media, pundits and partisans that has put the Middle East where it is today.

To have a lasting and meaningful effect, the solution to ISIS must come from the new Iraqi Government, moderate Syrian Rebels, the Arab League and regional government willing to come to a comprehensive, long-term solution.


 

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Rick Rinker
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