The Sunni militia Islamic State (IS) is rapidly advancing after capturing large swathes of Iraq, Syria and Libya and continuing to expand their control over the Middle East regions.
The world has been anxiously following the IS who poses a significant threat and the recent attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait has left the rest of the world terrified. While an American owned chemical plant was stormed in France, a gunman killed at least 38 people at a seaside resort in Tunisia. In Kuwait, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque during communal prayers, killing at least 25 Shiite worshipers. The IS has claimed responsibility for the attacks that took place on the same day spaced out with a few hours difference. The militant group has also captured Palmyra, the historic city in central Syria and Ramadi, capital of Anbar province. Many factors have facilitated the rise of the Islamic State. The group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is also known as Daesh (Daulat-i-Islamiyah fil Iraq wal Sham), the Arab acronym for ISIL. It emerged against the rule of the autocratic Shi’ite leader Nouri al-Maliki that saw discrimination and injustice towards the Sunni community. Maliki’s divisive sectarian politics led to a rise in violence throughout the country. IS caught international attention only after it captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The group declared an establishment of an Islamic ‘caliphate’ and announced its chief Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as the ‘Caliph’ and the ‘leader for Muslims everywhere’ on June 29, 2014. The atrocities continued including suicide bombings, abductions, executions and sweeping cross-border invasions.
With Baghdadi completing two years in power, the Islamic State has emerged more powerful than the Al Qaeda in terms of leadership, funds and expertise. The group has been successful in creating an impact on Asia, Africa and Europe. The adeptness in choosing the targets have left the even experts in the field, stunned. At present, not only Iraq, Syria and Libya but a major portion of Afghanistan is also in the clutches of IS. Around 40 towns and cities in West Asia are reportedly captured by the group that is believed to have built up well armed and mobile military units. The political experts initially saw the rise of the group as a natural response of the neglected sect who were completely isolated by the military government in Iraq believing that the militant forces could be easily crushed militarily and through political instability. If the group continues their advancement at the present rate, it could soon establish relations with other countries in the coming years. Experts believe that the group has the backing of external forces. According to the RAND Corporation in the US, Islamic State has revenue of 100 billion dollars through oil smuggling, 600 billion dollars through extortion and another 600 billion dollars through banks.
West Asia and North Africa, at present, are both more volatile than at the time of the two world wars. Countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya literally exists only on the maps. The GCC countries too are under financial threat. The US had led unilateral military operations that toppled Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and the Taliban. Questions as to why the forces under the US couldn’t effectively curb the extremist group are left unanswered even by Obama. Republican Senator John McCain recently admitted that the US had failed to tackle the IS. Haider al-Abadi, who succeeded Nouri al-Maliki have also not been able to do much to improve the situation. Britain and France has urged to ensure the representation of the Sunni community in the government as well as the army. But according to the experts, such a move would only benefit IS. The sloppiness in the attitude of the imperialistic powers is what has led to the birth and expansion of Islamic State.