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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid