News / Middle East

Iraqi Militants Make Gains Aided by Local Tribal Support

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in Mosul, June 23, 2014.
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in Mosul, June 23, 2014.

As Iraq's Sunni militants and their allies add border crossings near Syria and Jordan to their list of captured territory, many observers wonder what’s next.  U.S. officials have warned that the militants, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), could spread into Jordan, while some see them moving toward the Iraqi capital. Some analysts say ISIL's strategy is just part of the group's greater agenda of erasing modern borders and building a caliphate across the whole region.

The takeover of the Traibil border post with Jordan and the Al-Wajeed entry point to Syria were part of the ISIL’s primary agenda of creating a cross-border state, according to Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation.

"ISIL does not want to take over Iraq as it is currently constructed. In fact, I think that ISIL is probably going to be perfectly content not to try its hardest to take over Baghdad. I think what ISIL is looking to do is create a jihadi state in the primarily Sunni areas of western and northern Iraq and into eastern Syria," says Fishman.

Fishman says the way the militants will carry out their strategy can be seen from how they operated in Syria.  ISIL is fighting in the country’s civil war and has taken control of towns along Syria’s eastern border.

"This is not a group that has tried to go on the offense against Damascus. This is not a group that is trying to dominate every square inch of Syria. And they’re going to do the same thing in Iraq. They’re going to say: What can we control? Where can we dominate? Where can we establish governance?  And, where can we establish a base of operations for the long term?" – says Fishman.

Success through alliances

Part of ISIL’s success, according to Fishman, lies in its ability to form alliances with local Sunni militias, tribal groups and other organizations, one of the most surprising being the Naqshbandi army, a group closely associated with the remnants of the Iraqi Baath party of Saddam Hussein’s old regime.

"This is not a natural alliance. Jihadis and the old Iraqi Baath party don’t like each other. They have very, very different ideologies, very different ideas of who should be in charge and what the rules for society ought to be. And yet they’ve been able to cooperate, it seems in recent days, for this military offensive," says Fishman.

He says the best way to attack ISIL is not through military actions but by breaking the political alliances that have given it strength.

"It was losing those alliances originally that weakened the group in 2007 and it is regaining them; that has given it renewed strength today," says Fishman.

U.S. officials are urging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a new, inclusive government that will encourage the country’s Sunni population to re-assess and potentially break their allegiances with the militant group.

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said these new alliances could potentially affect military efforts in the country.

"So there's a window of opportunity here, I think, to get the Sunnis to re-assess. If you could find a new government that they felt hopeful about, I think we could form an alliance politically and militarily that would affect the momentum on the ground," says Graham.

Maliki has rejected the calls, saying any new government that ignores the results of the country's April election would be a “coup against the constitution and the political process.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a recent visit to Iraq that support from the U.S., which is sending 300 military advisers, will be intense, sustained, and effective if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Moustafa from: Jordan
June 25, 2014 7:15 PM
All Iraqi to the leader were terrorist, USA train terrorist in Iraq, after training turn the gun back to USA.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs