News / Middle East

    Terror Expert: ISIL Aims to Maintain Sunni Support

    Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they carry al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
    Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they carry al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
    Victor Beattie
    As the United States prepares to engage with long-time foe Iran as part of a strategy to blunt the advance of the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a terrorist expert says the key to ISIL’s goal of creating an Islamic caliphate encompassing Syrian and Iraqi territory is maintaining the Sunni population's support.

    Greg Barton, who co-directs the Center for Islam and the Modern World at Australia’s Monash University, says US-Iranian consultation would be significant, suggesting Iran prefers to see a stable Iraq under friendly Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to an unstable and hostile Sunni jihadist movement in Iraq that poses a threat to its own security.

    "Perhaps they [Iran] can work with the Americans and others in getting the Maliki government to realize that the solution to what is happening is as much a political solution as a military solution," Barton said.
     
    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
     
    • Formed by members of al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria and Iraq
    • Aims to establish an Islamic emirate across Syria and Iraq
    • Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq
    • Believed to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters
    • Has launched high-profile attacks in both countries
    "The reason ISIL has taken so much territory is because local populations are so jaundiced towards Baghdad and, if Baghdad can work to build confidence with the Kurds in the northeast and with the Sunnis in the Sunni Triangle to the northwest of Baghdad, they have half a chance of using these tendencies of ISIL to outstay its welcome through its draconian moral policing and use it to their advantage and regain towns and cities, perhaps getting Mosul back," he added.

    Barton says ISIL’s goal is not marching on Baghdad, but establishing an Islamic caliphate encompassing eastern Syria and north-central Iraq.  He says they have nearly achieved that, but whether they can keep the territory captured remains an open question.  The brutal occupation, he says, could turn the Sunni population against them.

    Al-Jazeera reports the source of ISIL’s funding and power remains unclear.  According to Barton, state funding is complicated to prove but private giving is not.

    "There are a lot of private donations coming out of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait and the other Gulf states," Barton noted. "In more recent times, it [ISIL] has its own source of funding controlling gas and oil fields in the east of Syria that gives it a revenue stream and now, having overrun Mosul, it acquired a lot of cash and gold bullion and military hardware. 

    "So, it’s probably sitting pretty as far as financial resources and military hardware goes.  The key thing is whether it can hold the social capital it currently enjoys with the support of Sunnis in the north of Iraq and the east of Syria," he added.

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki acknowledged Monday that money and assistance are flowing to ISIL from Syria and that it is a matter the United States is raising with Iraq’s Sunni neighbors.
     
    • A member of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces stands guard during an intensive security deployment in Baghdad's Amiriya district, June 18, 2014.
    • Shi'ite volunteers who joined the Iraqi army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant gesture with their weapons in Baghdad, June 18, 2014.
    • A member of Iraqi security forces stands guard in front of volunteers who joined the army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Baghdad, June 17, 2014.
    • Shi'ite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Basra, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
    • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during military-style training in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
    • Iraqi army soldiers stand guard in Baghdad, June 16, 2014.
    • A volunteer who joined the Iraqi Army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant holds a weapon during a parade in Al-Fdhiliya district, eastern Baghdad, June 15, 2014.
    • A vehicle belonging to Kurdish security forces fires a multiple rocket launcher during clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the outskirts of Diyala, Iraq, June 14, 2014.
    • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
    • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 11:05 AM

    A warlord, notorious for his use of provoking mass terror among his enemies, was Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongolian Empire in the 13th century AD, says Wiki. Defeating the will of the enemy was the top priority, and before attacking a settlement, the Mongol generals demanded submission to the Khan, and threatened the initial villages with complete destruction if they refused to surrender. After winning the battle, the Mongol generals fulfilled their threats and massacred the survivors. Tales of the encroaching horde spread to the next villages and created an aura of insecurity that undermined the possibility of future resistance.

    FYI. There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity. Muslims are a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. The country with the largest number (about 209 million) is Indonesia, where 87.2% of the population identifies as Muslim.

    by: Mohamed Mohsen from: egypt
    June 17, 2014 8:58 AM
    When u feed the beast.... one has to bare consequences. giving the anti Syrian money and weapons!!! then this happen remember who fed BenLadin in Afghanistan against the Russian these people know nothing about real islam,

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.